Under pressure: preventing hypertension with nutrients
The World Health Organization (WHO) rates hypertension as one of the most important causes of premature death worldwide, with an estimated 1.56 billion adults predicted to have high blood pressure by 2025.1 World Hypertension Day on May 17 aims to raise awareness of the condition, and how it can be prevented and controlled. Among other approaches, such as exercise, research has shown that nutrients, including omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin C, vitamin D and Fruitflow® can positively affect blood pressure.
High blood pressure – or hypertension – is defined as a systolic blood pressure at or above 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mmHg. Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, and diastolic blood pressure is the minimum pressure in the arteries between heart contractions. Hypertension places additional stresses on blood vessels, causing them to weaken or block. This can, in turn, lead to atherosclerosis, where the blood vessels narrow and become restricted – potentially causing blockages.2
Hypertension is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which remains a significant concern for medical and scientific communities, as well as governments and consumers. In fact, it is the leading cause of death among men and women in the US.3
The role of nutrients
A growing amount of research has shown that increasing intake of certain vital nutrients could form part of a practical risk reduction strategy for hypertension. While a well-balanced diet is the best way to address low nutrient levels, there are also market opportunities for fortified foods and dietary supplements to help fill nutritional gaps.
EPA and DHA
Studies have found that EPA can extend the benefits of statins in hypertensive patients.4 EPA and DHA supplementation also significantly reduced CVD risk among people with elevated serum triglycerides and/or LDL cholesterol.
Suboptimal vitamin D status has been linked to arterial stiffness, which is a cause of hypertension. Research highlights hypertension risk reductions of up to 30% that have been observed in individuals with a sufficient vitamin D status, compared to those with an insufficient level.5 Very recent research reports the combination of low vitamin D and vitamin K status has also been linked with increased blood pressure and a greater risk of hypertension and may play a role in promoting cardiovascular health.6
Science shows a strong link between high vitamin C levels and the significant lowering of blood pressure.7 These beneficial effects of vitamin C are further supported by the improvement of vasodilation in individuals with CVD.
A new study has shown that one daily capsule of Fruitflow® – a water soluble tomato extract – has beneficial effects on blood pressure. Several human studies showed that Fruitflow® contributes to a healthy blood flow, which can last for 12-18 hours after a single dose but it will last for at least 24 hours if taken continuously on a daily basis.8 This makes it a key ingredient to be incorporated into functional foods or dietary supplements.
1 A Chockalingam et al., ‘Worldwide epidemic of hypertension’, Can J Cardiol. 22(7) 553-555 (2006).
2 World Heart Federation, ‘Hypertension’, http://www.world-heart-federation.org/cardiovascular-health/cardiovascular-disease-risk-factors/hypertension/ (accessed 9 May 2017).
3 World Health Organization, ‘Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs)’, 2016, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/, (accessed 9 May 2017).
4 M Yokoyama, ‘Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on major cardiovascular events in hypercholesterolemic patients: the Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS). American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2005’ November 13-16, Dallas, Texas. Late Breaking Clinical Trials II, 2005.
5 Kunutsor et al, ‘Vitamin D and risk of future hypertension: meta-analysis of 283,537 participants’, Eur J Epidemiol. 28(3), 205-21 (2013).
6 A van Ballegooijen, ‘Joint association of low vitamin D and vitamin K status with blood pressure and hypertension’, Hypertension, 2017.
7 Moran et al, ‘Plasma ascorbic acid concentrations relate inversely to blood pressure in human subjects’, Am J Clin Nutr. 57(2), 213-7 (1993).
8 O’Kennedy N et al, Fruitflow: the first European Food Safety Authority-approved natural cardio-protective functional ingredient, Eur J Nutr 2017