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Originally published May 28 2005

Q&A: How to reduce high blood pressure and restore healthy cholesterol levels with natural health

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

A reader asks,"What are the proven natural products that reduce high blood pressure and restore healthy cholesterol levels? I am taking steps on the nutritional side of things such as avoiding meat and dairy products while eating a lot of fruits."

First of all, congratulations to you for taking some steps on the nutritional side. The fact that you are now avoiding meat and dairy products is excellent progress in reducing your high blood pressure and restoring healthy cholesterol levels. The fact that you are also consuming a lot of fruits is outstanding. Be sure to get plenty of berries in your diet at the same time.

Let's talk about high blood pressure first and what a person can do to reduce high blood pressure naturally without relying on prescription drugs or surgical procedures. As always, I'd like to urge you to work with a naturopathic physician anytime you read these articles and want to make changes in your own life. None of the information here should be construed as direct medical advice. You should always work with a qualified health professional, especially when dealing with potentially dangerous issues like high blood pressure.

Getting to those things that really work, you might be surprised to find that one of them is simply water. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is often caused by chronic dehydration. In fact, in one of the interviews I conducted with Dr. Batmanghelidj, he explains the mechanism by which this takes place. Essentially when the body is lacking water, it attempts to hold on to the available water supplies by resorting to vascular constriction throughout the body. This helps reduce the loss of water through the skin and through respiration. And by doing so, it helps conserve the remaining water in the body.

So if you want to avoid this response to dehydration, just drink a lot of water. This will hydrate your body and lower blood pressure without any negative side effects. Be careful to avoid hydrating yourself with other drinks that are actually dehydrating in nature. Those would include soft drinks, coffee, sports drinks, and basically any drink containing sugar, such as processed orange drinks.

That's one of the main things you can do. Another thing you can do, and this is generally better known, is to avoid intake of salt or sodium. Obviously high sodium intake causes high blood pressure. That's not even disputed by the American Heart Association, which seems to remain 10 or 20 years behind the cutting edge when it comes to heart health and science. My advice goes much further than that though, and that is: never eat foods containing simple sodium or sodium chloride (processed salt). Sodium chloride is not real salt.

If you're going to use salt at the dinner table or in cooking, go out and get yourself some ocean salt, or what is sometimes called "Celtic salt" or "Sea salt." That is, you want actual salt from the ocean, which is quite complex in its molecular structure. It has a great number of elements -- far more than just sodium and chloride -- and has a far different effect on your body than sodium chloride. In fact, sodium chloride could quite accurately be called a poison in sufficient doses. Each separate element is quite clearly a poison: sodium and chloride. But when combined, they create table salt that many in the nutritional wellness community also consider to be a toxin to the body.

So, avoiding salt is critical. And by the way, one of the most important strategies for doing that is to avoid eating at restaurants. Virtually every restaurant in America over-salts their foods in order to appease the wildly distorted tastes of American consumers. Americans are dosed up on so much salt and sugar that they can hardly taste it anymore. And when they go to restaurants, they demand such high levels of sodium in their food that a normal, healthy person trying to eat those foods is completely grossed out. I can attest to that from personal experience. I can hardly eat a bowl of soup from any restaurant in the country because they are all just loaded up with salt.

Lowering high cholesterol

Next, let's move on to healthy cholesterol levels. One of the best things you can do to avoid unhealthy cholesterol levels is to avoid consuming hydrogenated oils. These are artificial oils that have been processed in a laboratory for the convenience of food manufacturers and food marketing companies. They have no business whatsoever in the human body, and yet virtually every snack product in the grocery store is made with hydrogenated oils.

Margarines are made with hydrogenated oils as well. Unless they say, "no hydrogenated oils" right on the label, they contain it. Vegetable shortening, by the way, is pure hydrogenated oil. It is probably one of the single most toxic grocery products you can put in your body. And yet people are out there buying vegetable shortening by the bucket loads and baking cookies with it -- something I find absolutely appalling.

By far, the most powerful thing you can do to restore healthy cholesterol levels is to stop eating hydrogenated oils. The next thing that you can do is stop eating trans fat (trans fatty acids) -- that means avoid all fried foods. Fried foods just do not belong in the human diet. And if you're already avoiding red meat and dairy products, then avoiding fried foods is probably a fairly easy step for you. Fried foods are incompatible with health, and if you choose to eat fried foods at any time in your life, even just one meal a week, you're going to have unhealthy cholesterol levels as a result.

Aged garlic supplements for cholesterol

On the supplements side, there are a lot of things you can do. You can take garlic supplements, or just eat a lot of whole garlic. One of the things I like to do is take garlic cloves and just bake them. You can eat them baked, put them in pastas or put them on a healthy pizza made with soy cheese and organic crust. Baked garlic cloves are delicious and they're outstanding for your health. They donít have the bite of raw garlic cloves.

Garlic supplements are also good, and the best company out there is Kyolic. Buy their aged garlic supplements. I do, and I recommend them to my family and friends. In fact, garlic has many other health benefits beyond cholesterol: the herb also fights cancer and greatly enhances immune system function.

Medicine from nature: blueberries

One of my favorite solutions for fighting cholesterol levels is eating lots of blueberries. Blueberries have now been proven to be more effective than statin drugs in reducing cholesterol levels, and yet they have absolutely no negative side effects whatsoever. You can get blueberries throughout the year if you go to the right stores.

If you can't find them at a grocery store, check out my book called "Secret Sources," which gives you the location of an online retailer where you can purchase freeze-dried blueberries, and you can store them all year long and use them any time you want. That's a very convenient way to take blueberries. It's a little on the pricey side, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than statin drugs! And of course, it's a fraction of the cost of actually ending up in the hospital with out-of-control cholesterol levels.

Also, all on the nutrition side, as you have already guessed, it is very important to avoid saturated animal fats. You don't want to be eating any hamburger or red meat at all. In short, if you avoid red meat you will also be doing yourself a huge favor in terms of avoiding environmental toxins. Red meat consumption also promotes colon cancer.

I recall a recent study that showed fire retardant chemicals in massive quantities are now being found in the animal fats in red meat. That's because these fire retardant chemicals tend to collect in the fat tissues. These chemicals are found throughout our environment now. Cows are essentially accumulators and concentrators of environmental toxins. They eat tons of grass, literally, throughout their lives. And, they tend to concentrate any toxic chemicals spread on the grass through pesticides or contaminated well water.

So, when you eat a piece of beef, you are eating, quite literally, a highly concentrated form of saturated animal fat containing environmental toxins that would never be present in those quantities in the natural environment. Thus, in addition to supporting healthy cholesterol, avoiding red meat will also save you from all of the terrible negative side effects of environmental toxins.

Avoid dairy products

Avoiding dairy products is also important for cardiovascular health. Hydrogenated cows' milk is something that absolutely does not belong in the human body. It is an artificially processed food. It doesnít have any justifiable purpose for human nutrition. Hydrogenated milk would probably kill baby cows just due to the negative effects of eating homogenized fat molecules. Now, if you feel that you have to drink cows' milk, if you're addicted to this substance for some reason -- maybe in your past life, you were a baby cow -- then what you can do is go out and buy raw, unprocessed cowís milk from a local farmer.

You have to live near a farm or have some connections in order to get that product. It will taste very different from processed cows' milk and it will be a lot healthier for you. You will also find that the fat in the milk will separate. That's the way it's supposed to work in the real world... not in the make-believe world of the grocery store where milk has been homogenized and processed to make it look fresh even though it may be quite old.

Cardiovascular exercise

And lastly, I have to mention the importance of cardiovascular exercise and physical fitness. Your level of physical activity has a strong influence on your cholesterol levels. In a simple sense, you could say that cardiovascular exercise converts LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) into HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol. I know that's a simplification, but the point is still valid. When you exercise on a regular basis, you will lower your LDL levels and raise your HDL levels. And remember, it's the ratio of these two that is the predictor of cardiovascular disease.

It is essential to get on a regular cardiovascular exercise program. Remember, it doesnít have to be outrageously strenuous in order to be effective. All it has to do is get your heart rate up. You might be a person who is overweight and you have a hard time walking up the stairs. Well, that's fine. Walking up a flight of stairs is good exercise for you if it gets your heart rate up.

If walking 400 yards, just down the street and back, gets your respiration up and your heart beating, it is good for you. That's good cardiovascular exercise. Ideally, you want to engage in exercise that lasts about 45 minutes a day. However, if you can only do 30 minutes a day, then do 30. If you can do an hour a day, then go for an hour. But aim for 45 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise -- and make it medium in level of effort. Of course, always be sure to check with a health professional before engaging in an exercise program just to make sure there is not some other health reason why it would be dangerous for you to do so.

With all of that in place: getting lots of water into your diet, avoiding processed salt (sodium chloride), consuming garlic and blueberries and other natural substances such as red yeast rice and combining it with moderate levels of cardiovascular exercise, you will quite readily and noticeably reduce your LDL cholesterol levels, bringing them back into a healthy balance.

It's really not difficult. This isn't rocket science at all. There are no prescription drugs needed whatsoever. All that you need to do is make lifestyle changes that are proven to enhance your cholesterol health. And once again, I speak from experience on this. My ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol is almost 1:1. That's a ratio that's almost unheard of by most doctors and health practitioners. I have an LDL cholesterol level of 67.

I did that through nutrition, physical exercise and nutritional supplements. I don't take any prescription drugs whatsoever. And, hey, I'm middle-aged as well. I'm 35 years old. So this isnít something that only works for people who are 20. You can do this at any age, even if you're 75. It all comes down to your dietary choices, nutritional supplementation, and your level of physical exercise.


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