High blood pressure rarely shows noticeable symptoms so the only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked, either by a GP or pharmacist or using a blood pressure monitor at home. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause the arteries to thicken, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke, so doing what you can to lower a reading after a diagnosis or keeping blood pressure in check is very important. A healthy diet low in salt and high in fruit and vegetables, regular exercise and not smoking are three major ways to lower blood pressure, according to the NHS. But research over the years has also suggested natural supplements can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
Three supplements with evidence to back them are aged garlic extract, whey protein and hibiscus.
Aged garlic extract
This has been used as a successful stand-alone treatment for a range of conditions, including blood pressure.
One study concluded aged garlic extract is effective in reducing peripheral and central blood pressure in a large proportion of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
It also showed potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation and other cardiovascular markers in patients with elevated levels.
A total of 88 participants with controlled high blood pressure took part in the double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial for a duration of 12 weeks.
They took either aged garlic extract or a placebo daily, and aged garlic extract showed positive results.
Hibiscus flowers are commonly used in tea and are rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that have been found to be good for the heart and blood pressure.
In one study, 65 people with high blood pressure were given hibiscus tea or a placebo. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20018807)
After six weeks, those who drank hibiscus tea had a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure, compared to the placebo.
A 2015 review of five studies also found hibiscus tea decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 7.58mmHg and 3.53mmHg.
While hibiscus tea is considered a safe and natural way to lower blood pressure, it’s important to note some studies have shown it may interact with hydrochlorothiazide – a diuretic medication often used to treat high blood pressure.
A study published in the 2016 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found whey protein could modestly lower blood pressure.
Whey protein is one of the main proteins found in milk.
A total of 38 volunteers with slightly elevated blood pressure took part in the study.
The participants drank two shakes a day that contained why, casein (another milk protein) or maltodextrin (a carbohydrate that served as a control).
They consumed each of the three supplements for eight weeks each in a random order.
Consuming 56g per day of whey protein led to around a three point drop in systolic blood pressure and a two point drop in diastolic blood pressure compared with the control.
Another supplement which has been found to lower blood pressure is magnesium.