Cardiovascular disease doesn’t happen overnight. A combination of factors contributes to this illness. According to the annual report from the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is among those most likely to result in death. Also known as hypertension, this condition worsens as the prolonged effects accumulate, turning unhealthy dietary choices today into disorders tomorrow.
The causes of high blood pressure aren’t unfamiliar to consumers. They’re told by doctors, nurses, nutritionists, the FDA, and even health food brands that lowering sodium can cut their hypertension risk. Yet people have a hard time cutting salty foods from the diet, not only because of the taste but because sodium triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. It’s practically addictive.
That’s why, rather than cutting out this mineral, people might be better off trying to neutralize the negative effects. Eating the right amount of potassium can help counteract sodium and reduce high blood pressure. Here’s how this essential mineral can help (and why some types of seaweed might be the ideal source).
Why Potassium Matters
In the human body, potassium is essential to help muscles contract and support normal blood pressure functions. People who get adequate amounts of this mineral can prevent their arteries from hardening, which can help to prevent cases of cardiovascular disease in the long run. For that reason, potassium is considered one of the minerals human beings need most.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of potassium is 4,700mg for adults and most Americans fall short of their healthy requirements. Men over 20 years old typically consumed 3,016mg of potassium while women only consumed 2,320 mg. This is in part because of the high amount of carbohydrates, meats, and processed foods that people eat daily.
There are a variety of options if people look at the right types of food. The fresh fruits and vegetables that are often lacking from American diets could help to alleviate high blood pressure. And, studies are increasingly finding, so could certain seaweeds.
Does Seaweed Lower Blood Pressure?
Research has shown a variety of seaweed health benefits that have a positive impact on the circulatory system and heart. Antioxidant properties in brown and red seaweeds help prevent or slow oxidation damage to tissues that can extend heart health. Studies are showing a seaweed diet can help fight cardiovascular disease, which can be promising for future treatment. Yet the potential to prevent hypertension in the first place is worth further exploration.
A study of the effects of brown seaweed revealed a possible treatment for hypertension. In one of the test groups, there was a measured decrease of systolic blood pressure by 10.5 mmHg after participants consumed 6 grams daily for a month. These types of results need to be investigated further, but there’s early potential.
On top of reducing sodium absorption, seaweed pares down the excess need for this nutrient in each meal. For example, the sodium to potassium ratio in red seaweed like dulse is around 1:3.8, which is around the target ratio the human body needs. Moreover, the seaweed itself offers a healthy saltiness which plenty of people love.
So, if you want to prevent people from developing hypertension, you can start by encouraging them to replace their typical source of sodium with dried seaweed. Consumers’ taste buds may take a moment to adjust, but soon they’ll forget the difference. However, their blood pressure will definitely thank them.
Want to stay current with the latest uses of seaweed? Reach out to members of the Acadian SeaPlus team to find out how this marine resource can fight high blood pressure and other ailments.