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In this study, 32 people with preliminary signs of hypertension were randomly assigned to receive grape seed extract (300 mg per day in a capsule) or placebo for eight weeks. Blood pressure was measured before and after the intervention.
Results showed that, compared with placebo, systolic and diastolic blood pressure was reduced by about 5 to 8 mm Hg in the grape seed extract group.
The study authors comment, “These findings suggest that grape seed extract could be used as a nutraceutical in a lifestyle modification program for patients with pre-hypertension.” They recommend larger, long-term research trials to determine whether this extract and other compounds found in fruits and vegetables might “reduce the number of people transitioning from pre-hypertension to overt hypertension.”
Know your blood pressure. Research suggests that even mild elevations in blood pressure increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. According to the Joint National Committee (JNC) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg. The JNC states that people with pre-hypertension need “health-promoting lifestyle modifications to prevent cardiovascular disease.”
Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Whether a person has mild, moderate, or significantly elevated blood pressure, choosing healthy lifestyle behaviors is important for health and disease prevention. The JNC recommends five healthy behaviors that have a significant effect on blood pressure including weight reduction if overweight, adopting a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limiting dietary sodium, getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week, and limiting alcohol.
Make wise food choices. As emerging research reveals, specific nutrients found in fruits and vegetables known as phytochemicals can have a direct beneficial effect on blood pressure. For instance, studies have shown that the plant compounds found in grape seed extract may improve the function of blood vessels and circulation, both of which are directly involved in the regulation of blood pressure. We will learn more about how specific nutrients affect blood pressure in the years ahead.
Talk with a doctor. See a doctor to have your blood pressure checked, and talk about the risks and benefits of supplements. For some people, taking medication is an important part of controlling blood pressure, so work with your doctor to receive the safest and most effective treatment for you.
(J Pharm Nutri Sci 2012;2:155–9, 7th Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/express.pdf, accessed April 11, 2013)