High blood pressure puts you at risk for developing serious health problems including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke among many others. This is why cardiac care should be a top priority for everyone – including you! New research has shown that adding heart healthy foods that contain isoflavones into your diet may help with cardiac care by supporting healthy blood pressure. Heart healthy foods that have isoflavones include soy as well as green tea, peanuts and other plant foods.
The recent study results were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in March. The researcher, Safiya Richardson, studied over 5,000 participants, ranging in age from 18-30 years, over a 20 year time period. At the 20 year mark in the study, participants filled out an extensive dietary survey. The researcher found that the participants who ate the most isoflavones (greater than 2.5mg per day) had healthier blood pressure than those who ate the least amount of isoflavones (lower than .33mg per day). Blood pressure consists of two pressures – systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number). Systolic blood pressure was lowered, on average, by 5.5mmHg, in individuals who ate the most isoflavones.
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What is very interesting about this study is that it is the first study to show a lowering of blood pressure in African Americans. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is a staggering 42%. The results from this study look very promising, in particular, for African American population. Other factors that can affect blood pressure were also monitored by Richardson including: age, sex, weight, smoking, alcohol, physical activity and calories consumed. It is thought that isoflavones help with cardiac care by increasing the production of enzymes that create nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to widen the blood vessels, which helps to reduce the pressure of the blood in the vessels. Additional research to support the findings from this study are needed, but for now, the consumption of heart healthy foods that contain isoflavones looks to be beneficial for supporting blood pressure in the general population.
Eating heart healthy foods, including those high in isoflavones, should be part of your cardiac care diet. Cardiac care involves a number of factors – diet, exercise and lifestyle choices are all factors that you can control to protect your heart. If you are already suffering from blood pressure issues, speak to your doctor about adding in soy, which is high in isoflavones, to other heart healthy foods that are already part of the DASH diet. The DASH diet consists of heart healthy foods including lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grain products. If you don’t have blood pressure concerns take steps now to protect your heart. By doing so, your chance of having to use medication to control your blood pressure issues in the future will be minimized.