For many Americans, having an ideal blood pressure seems like a pipe dream—one in three suffer from hypertension, and nearly 70 percent of those treat it with daily medication. The good news? Achieving your ideal blood pressure—for most people, no higher than 120/80—is actually possible without drugs. In her upcoming book Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs, registered dietitian Dr. Janet Bond Brill offers a thorough but easy-to-follow prescription for the lifestyle changes that can help you reach your ideal blood pressure. Among them is making sure you’re eating enough foods with three “magic minerals’: potassium, magnesium and calcium. In this excerpt, she discusses how to boost your magnesium intake—which will also help your body maintain adequate levels of potassium.
If you are taking diuretics, have diabetes, or drink excessive amounts of alcohol, you may be especially prone to developing a magnesium (and potassium) deficiency— all the more reason to follow the healthy eating advice set forth in these pages. But it is important to note a few key caveats regarding magnesium consumption.
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There is no designated maximum for the amount of magnesium that you can eat— there is no evidence that magnesium from food sources, in any amount, can be toxic. But there is a toxicity problem associated with magnesium supplements. High doses of magnesium in supplement form can have side effects including loss of appetite, muscle weakness, diarrhea and nausea. The bottom line: Do not take magnesium supplements unless your doctor prescribes them.
You should also be mindful of magnesium antagonists—certain foods, drugs, and other minerals that can interfere with the absorption of magnesium. For example, high doses of supplemental zinc and high protein intake interfere with magnesium absorption, as does excessive laxative use and use of certain oral contraceptives. Be sure to ask your doctor about magnesium and drug interactions.
To consume the Blood Pressure Down goal of at least 500mg daily, you will need to munch that magnesium! Head for your supermarket and harness the power of this miracle mineral. In so doing, you will be taking another powerful, additive step in pushing those millimeters down.
Magnesium has sometimes been called the “orphan nutrient,” a forgotten mineral that has been studied considerably less than calcium and flies below the general public’s radar. But this is changing as more and more scientists are jumping on the magnesium bandwagon. We know that a magnesium-deficient diet is a major factor contributing to the development of many diseases—most notably high blood pressure.
10 Tips for Adding Magnesium to Your Day
1. Wake up to your morning cup of joe. Coffee and espresso are excellent sources of magnesium. (If you tend to drink a lot of coffee, consider switching to decaf.)
2. Make a nightly cup of hot cocoa using unsweetened dark cocoa powder and light soy milk.
3. Sauté up some spinach with pine nuts and raisins (cook with extra–virgin olive oil).
4. Bake with molasses. Blackstrap molasses packs a good amount of magnesium. You can also use it to add nutrition to your oatmeal or even coffee.
5. Eat nuts! Unless you are allergic, nuts are wonderful high-magnesium foods.
6. Snack on roasted pumpkin seeds (usually available in the supermarket in the snack food section, next to the nuts). Just 1 ounce contains a whopping 75 mg of magnesium.
7. Use tofu in cooking. Half a cup packs 50 mg of magnesium for just 88 calories.
8. Get some Latin flavor in your cooking and serve black beans as a side dish. They contain a massive amount of magnesium (120 mg per cup).
9. Cook up some buckwheat pancakes on Sunday mornings. Buckwheat flour boasts 301mg of magnesium per cup.
10. Order halibut next time you eat at a seafood restaurant. Halibut not only packs in 170mg of magnesium per half a filet, it also contains a nice amount of heart- healthy omega- 3 fat.
Reprinted from Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN. Copyright © 2013 by Janet Brill, Ph.D. To be published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc, on May 7, 2013.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JANET BRILL, PhD, RD, LDN, is a nationally recognized expert in cardiovascular disease prevention and the author of Cholesterol Down and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. She has been a nutritionist in private practice for many years.