Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Acai Berry and High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure, or hypertension is common among adults living in highly developed countries. The subject of stress plays only a part in the development of high blood pressure. Several factors are to blame. It can be due to other concomitant diseases or can occur independently. It can lead to bigger problems to different organs in the body if left untreated. It is considered a silent killer if you are not aware that you have it.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood exerted against the wall of the arteries. Arteries are vessels that deliver blood that has been oxygenated from the lungs towards the different organs of the body. When the blood pressure is high, it means that there is more tension applied against the arterial wall, leading to several problems.

Blood pressure can be measured using a device called sphygmomanometer in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) recorded as two numbers. The upper value refers to the systolic pressure, which corresponds to the pressure in the arteries while the heart is contracting. The lower number is called the diastolic pressure, which is measured when the heart is at rest. Both values are important in determining whether or not you have a high blood pressure.

Hypertension is of major health concern because it makes the heart work doubly hard to pump blood, and increases the risk for developing complications to other organs including the eyes, kidneys, arteries, and brain.

What is the Normal Blood Pressure?

As per recommendations of the Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC-7),

Normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic pressure and 80 diastolic pressure. You are considered to be in the prehypertension stage if your systolic pressure ranges from 120 to 139 and your diastolic pressure is from 80-89. You have a high blood pressure if your systolic value reaches 140 or higher, and your diastolic pressure is 90 or higher. So, where do you belong?

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

There are two forms of hypertension, the essential and the secondary. Essential hypertension means that no specific medical cause has been found to bring about the high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is elevated blood pressure due to other medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disorders, or tumours.

Essential hypertension accounts for 95% of hypertension. The cause for this varies. Contributing factors include the following: high fat and salt diet, obesity, old age, smoking, stress, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, and heredity.

Only 5% of hypertension cases are secondary. Causes include: diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, adrenal gland tumors, coarctation of the aorta, thyroid disorders, and pregnancy.

What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

You may not know that you have hypertension until you have it checked. A lot of people don’t feel anything unusual except when the blood pressure reaches levels that are dangerously high.

The common manifestations of high blood pressure are headache, dizziness, palpitations, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and easy fatigability.

How is High Blood Pressure Treated?

A healthy diet is of paramount importance in treating high blood pressure. Reduce the amount of salt and fat you consume daily. Eat more vegetables and fruits because they are rich sources of vitamins and fiber. Dietary fiber lowers the bad cholesterol that contributes to the increasing blood pressure. Watch your weight because obesity is a factor, as well. Cut down on your alcohol intake. The more alcohol is consumed, the higher the risk for hypertension. Drinking coffee, likewise, was linked to a mild increase in blood pressure in the people who are already hypertensive.

Lifestyle changes have to be made. Avoid smoking because of its unpleasant effects on the blood vessels. Start an exercise regimen to improve the circulation of blood and get adequate sleep. Avoid staying up too late at night.

Your physician may prescribe oral medications for you to take regularly, especially if high blood pressure cannot be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes alone.

How Does Acai Come To The Rescue?

Acai berry, known for its rich anthocyanin content, provides anti-oxidant effects for healthier cells. The anti-oxidants in acai are much higher than other sources such as blueberries, that is why acai berries are regarded as one of the ten superfoods in the world. The toxins are flushed out from the weakened cell membranes lining the walls of the blood vessels hence preventing fluctuations in the blood pressure.

The anti-oxidants are of value in destroying homocysteine, a compound that is known to increase the risks for cardiovascular diseases.

The micronutrients in acai help augment the supply of nutrients needed by the cells to continue its normal functions. Acai provides a part of the daily allowance of B-vitamins, Beta-carotene, Boron, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Folate, Iodine, Manganese, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Potassium, Selenium, Vitamins C, D, E, and Zinc.

Acai contains essential fatty acids needed to fight bad cholesterol, Omega 6 and Omega 9. Cholesterol build-up in the arteries lead to plaque formation, and subsequent increase in the blood pressure to push adequate blood past the blockage.

The abundant beta-sitosterol in acai , competes with dietary cholesterol for absorption, hence lowering the blood cholesterol. The high dietary fiber present in acai also helps in reducing the bad cholesterol.

Acai has a low glycemic index which helps in controlling weight. The glycemic index is the ranking of carbohydrates based on their effect on blood sugar levels. The faster carbohydrates break down during digestion, the higher the glycemic index. Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing sugar gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index. Foods that are low in glycemic levels are slow to digest and be absorbed into the body's bloodstream, enabling the body's blood sugar and insulin levels to rise slowly.

When choosing acai supplements, the pill form has more advantage than the juice form because of the higher concentration of acai in capsule form. Acai juice makes use of additional ingredients and additives, with relatively less content of the main ingredient. The sugar content in the juice may aggravate the blood sugar levels of diabetics. Diabetes is one of the precursors of high blood pressure. The preservatives used may have adverse effects on your health, which may complicate your condition further.

When acai has to be exported from another country, it has to undergo irradiation to rid off the pests and microorganisms. Radiation to the food you eat may be passed on to your body, which puts you in danger of consuming carcinogens. With solid state products, only the husk of the fruit (where all the good stuff is) is imported and processed, needing no irradiation.

Can I Take Acai Supplements Along with my Anti-hypertensive Drugs?

Acai is highly recommended as a preventive measure against high blood pressure. When you have been started on drugs to control high blood pressure, the question now rises on whether you can take acai together with your maintenance medications.

There are no sufficient studies to date, on the interactions of acai with drugs or other food. However, caution is advised when taking ACE-inhibitors such as captopril, enalapril, and lisinopril because the high potassium content in acai may potentially increase the potassium levels in the blood when taken along with ACE-inhibitors. The same logic holds true for potassium-sparing diuretics like spironolactone, triamterene, or amiloride and beta-blockers including metoprolol and propranolol.

No documented cases have been reported so far, on the interactions of the above- mentioned anti-hypertensive drugs with acai supplements.

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