Now, more than ever, we are learning the true meaning of being heart-healthy; and we are learning it the hard way.
Heart disease is at an all-time high, and more young adults are being diagnosed with heart disease.
High cholesterol and blood pressure have always been ill-advised in the medical community, but new research is bringing to light just how detrimental heart disease can be.
What are the Risks of High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure, sometimes called BP, measures the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels.
Blood pressure is necessary and healthy. The problem is when this natural pressure swells and exerts excessive pressure on the walls.
Blood pressure is typically two numbers, with your systolic pressure (the pressure when your heart is contracting) goes over the diastolic pressure (the measurement between pulses when the walls are at rest). Diastolic pressure is smaller as the walls are at rest.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the “standard” human blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. Healthy blood pressure is typically below these numbers.
People with systolic blood pressure between 120-139 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure between 80-90 mmHg typically have a condition called prehypertension.
If left unchecked, this can progress to hypertension, a condition in which blood pressure is consistently over 140/90 mmHg. Hypertension is problematic for a few reasons.
In an evaluation by research scientists in the Journal of American Medicine, “hypertension is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately”.
Other serious conditions include:
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don't allow blood to flow freely through your arteries.
When blood can't flow freely to your heart, you can experience chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Enlarged Left Heart
High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder than necessary to pump blood to the rest of your body. This causes the left ventricle to thicken or stiffen (left ventricular hypertrophy).
These changes limit the ventricle's ability to pump blood to your body. This condition increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.
Over time, the strain on your heart caused by high blood pressure can cause your heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, your overwhelmed heart begins to wear out and fail. Damage from heart attacks adds to this problem.
Can a Keto Diet Lower Blood Pressure?
You may be wondering, “Can a Keto Diet Lower Blood Pressure?” It’s a great question.
One of the big things you might hear is that eating lots of fat or a high-fat diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure or a heart attack.
Surprisingly, the keto diet appears to be leading the race on fighting chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, and hypertension. It all boils down to what kinds of fats you are eating and how they impact your heart health.
On a keto diet, we recommend eating good fats such as olive oil, avocado and coconut oil, fatty fish and seeds such as flaxseed and chia seed, which are packed with yummy nutrients.
We do not recommend eating a highly processed and fatty diet with inferior fats that can increase your risk of heart disease.
Can Keto Help Me Get Off BP Medication?
Most studies are showing the ketogenic diet’s impact on blood pressure stack up against lower fat alternatives. A team of research scientists headed by Doctor William S. Yancy decided to add another variable in the mix: the drug Orlistat.
In their 2010 study, this team recruited 146 overweight/obese patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs primary clinic in North Carolina for a 48 week-long trial.
These subjects had an average age of 52 years, 72% were men, and 32% had diabetes mellitus (defined as glucose greater than 125 mg/dL). About 30% had hypertension.
The researchers randomly assigned them to one of two intervention groups. The first group of 72, called the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) group, consumed an average of 40-60 grams of carbohydrates per day and were asked to maintain a 500-1000 kilocalorie deficit of energy per day.
The second group of 74 consumed a low-fat diet with 30% of energy or less from fat and the same calorie deficit. Additionally, they took three 120 mg of Orlistat per day. They were designated as the Orlistat + low-fat group.
To compare the effectiveness of each intervention, the researchers measured key metabolic parameters including blood pressure and body weight. All subjects were asked to exercise on their own for 30 minutes at least three times per week and asked to drink six to eight glasses of fluids daily.
At the conclusion of the study, 57 participants in the LCKD group (79%) and 65 of the participants in the Orlistat + low-fat group (88%) were analyzed. On average, both groups had similar levels of change in key metrics, such as body weight and levels of triglycerides.
However, while the systolic blood pressure in the low-carb group decreased by 5.9 mmHg, the systolic pressure increased by 1.5 mmHg in the low-fat group.
The LCKD group decreased their diastolic blood pressure by 4.5 mmHg while the low-fat group slightly increased their blood pressure by 0.4 mmHg.
These findings are more surprising given the fact that the LCKD group consumed, on average, 50-150 kilocalories more per day. Thus, the group eating a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic diet experienced a much more positive health outcome in regards to blood pressure.
Starting a Mediterranean Style Keto Diet
If you have any concerns about your heart condition whatsoever, we always recommend you chat with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
Your heart health is unique to you, and your doctor can help you run tests to get an accurate representation of the choices you have in front of you.
The excellent news is that modern research indicates if you get on a keto diet sooner rather than later, you too can help to improve your health overall. It's important to work with your doctor and tell them you want to start a Spanish Mediterranean Ketogenic Diet (SMKD) that focuses on good healthy fats.
By adding a Mediterranean twist to your keto diet, you can reap the rewards of many fantastic and tasty ingredients that clinically support heart health.
In 2008, a group of Spanish researchers assessed how a Mediterranean twist on the keto diet would impact cardiovascular health.
In their prospective study lasting 12 weeks, clinicians recruited 40 obese subjects (19 female and 22 male) with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36.46 and an average age of 38.48 years.
The systolic blood pressure decreased by 13.25% from 125.71 mmHg to 109.05 mmHg while the diastolic blood pressure decreased by 10.98% from 84.52 mmHg to 75.24 mmHg.
These numbers also indicate that the average subject went from pre-hypertension to normal, healthy blood pressure.
Interestingly, the researchers also remarked, “we think that there was a more selective fat loss because we didn’t observe the flaccidity physical aspect that we have observed before with hypocaloric diets”.
This suggests that an SKMD diet may confer more advantages to body fat and blood pressure than a conventional, low-calorie diet.
Because of their findings, the researchers stated that the “SKMD is a safe, effective way of losing weight, promoting non-atherogenic lipid profiles, lowering blood pressure and improving fasting blood glucose levels.”
Lowering Your Carbs
Studies have concluded that a low-carb diet can only help to improve the quality of your heart health and blood pressure.
We recommend tapering off carbs slowly to reach a level that works to your comfort level. On keto, we eat fewer than 20 net carbs per day to get into ketosis, but any reduction can help you.
You can read up more on how to start a keto diet here.
Increasing Healthy Fats
Once you begin to lower your carbs, it is crucial to start adding in healthy fats that support your heart health.
You should work with a doctor to make sure the changes you are making enable your blood pressure to reach an optimal zone and to correct any issues you might be having with your medication.
You can read more tips on how to start a high-fat diet here.
One of the big perks of a keto diet is that you stand to gain a lot more natural energy. This is mostly in part because the body turns to ketones for energy.
Ketones are incredibly powerful and will energize you through the day and help you sleep better at night.
Ketones are the special ingredient in Keto Activate. On a keto diet, you don’t need to drink coffee and other stimulants to get a rush. Caffeine and energy drinks are not recommended for people with a history of heart disease or high blood pressure.
Instead, get your morning fix by adding a half scoop of natural Keto Activate to nut milk or water, and you will have a refreshing and energizing way to start your day.
Click here to get some tasty Keto Activate recipes.
Overall, eating a keto diet should be an excellent way for you to work with your doctor and make great strides in your overall health.
Over time, you may be surprised to learn you do not need to use your blood pressure medication, which is why we strongly suggest working with your doctor upfront to monitor these changes.