What’s Inside Grapes Could Lower Blood Pressure

Gut Microbe Red Wine and Coffee

High blood pressure is one of the most common health problems people can be diagnosed with. It remains one of the most commonly treated medical problems and accounts for one of the highest number of prescriptions given.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is caused by several problems, most of which are lifestyle driven. So any attempts at improving your lifestyle can be a valuable strategy to reduce your blood pressure.

There are also a few nutritional supplements which may also prove to be helpful. Resveratrol is one which comes to mind simply because there is previous research indicating its effectiveness and safety.

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Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring chemical found in high concentrations in the skins of red grapes. It is classified as a polyphenol that possesses some unique biochemical properties including potent antioxidant capability. As you would expect, red wine is a very good source of resveratrol; however, concentrated extracts are also available in supplement form.

It’s become a well-known fact that red wine consumption can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, as previous population studies have established. The French paradox is a good example of this, where the consumption of a high fat diet coupled with a high prevalence of cigarette smoking in France also indicated relatively lower levels of heart disease.

This was attributed to the intake of red wine and the protective effects that provided. This was also part of the reason why those consuming the Mediterranean-type diet have consistently lower levels of heart disease relative to Western populations.

The chemical resveratrol is the magic ingredient in the red wine that provides all of the benefits attributed to its consumption. Resveratrol is quite an amazing substance as it has several interesting effects upon our cardiovascular system.

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Resveratrol can lower blood pressure indirectly and directly. Indirectly, the intake of resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity which keeps blood sugar and insulin levels lower after a meal. Lower levels of insulin and improved insulin sensitivity are directly responsible for a drop in blood pressure as levels of inflammation are also much lower.

Resveratrol also has some direct effects upon the inside of our arteries. As an antioxidant, it prevents cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to our artery wall. It also prevents blood clots and calcium from forming inside the artery and improves the function of the thin endothelial lining of the arteries. Resveratrol also causes the secretion of a chemical called nitric oxide which relaxes the muscular wall of the artery allowing more blood to flow through the artery and to all parts of your body.

The resulting positive changes to the level of artery function and level of inflammation can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of arterial pathology associated with heart disease and stroke.

Resveratrol is available as a nutritional supplement in a capsule form. Although the dosage can greatly vary, I recommend taking 400 mg of resveratrol once per day and then gradually increase the dosage to three times per day with food if you have high blood pressure or any risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, or stoke. Check with your health care provider before taking this supplement.


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Sources:
“Resveratrol supplements,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/resveratrol-supplements, last accessed Jan.6, 2014.
Qureshi, A.A., et al., “Nutritional Supplement-5 with a Combination of Proteasome Inhibitors (Resveratrol, Quercetin, δ-Tocotrienol) Modulate Age-Associated Biomarkers and Cardiovascular Lipid Parameters in Human Subjects,” J Clin Exp Cardiolog. March 2, 2013; 4(3).
Wong, R.H., et al., “Chronic resveratrol consumption improves brachial flow-mediated dilatation in healthy obese adults,” J Hypertens. September 2013; 31(9): 1,819-27.