High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a prolific problem, affecting 75 million people in the United States and 16 million people in the United Kingdom.
People with high blood pressure are deficient in magnesium
People with higher than average blood pressure do not have enough magnesium in their bodies, a new study has revealed.
Eating magnesium rich foods like cocoa may help to lower your blood pressure due to the fact magnesium helps the body regulate blood flow.
The results of the study suggest that including magnesium rich foods such as dark chocolate, bananas and avocado in your diet could be vitally important in helping to ward off the condition, which is known to increase the risk of suffering heart disease and a stroke.
The study, published in the World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases, included 25 people diagnosed with high blood pressure and 21 people without the condition - they completed food diaries to assess their daily magnesium intake. They were tested against a control group, whom were made up of the general UK population using data provided by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
The results of the study showed that those participants with high blood pressure had a significantly lower intake of dietary magnesium compared to the general healthy population.
Dietary magnesium intake is at lower than currently recommended levels across the board
The data gathered was examined further to see if there were any changes in magnesium intake associated with age. There were in fact significant differences found between age groups with intake being lower among older people. Furthermore, the study showed that all participants had a lower than recommended magnesium intake regardless of their blood pressure status.
The lead researcher of the study, Lindsy Kass, said:
'Magnesium is a key factor in blood pressure regulation and our study suggests that not only can low dietary magnesium intake lead to hypertension but that worryingly, dietary magnesium intake is at lower than currently recommended levels across the board.
'Though recommended levels in the US are higher than the UK, the real issue lies with dietary intake and not with the recommendations themselves.
'It is important to understand how dietary magnesium impacts blood pressure as that way we can push initiatives to increase knowledge and awareness of this micronutrient, which may help to reduce blood pressure in the UK and subsequently save the NHS money on costly drug intervention.
'Figures show that by reducing the blood pressure of the nation as a whole, £850 million of NHS and social care costs could be avoided over 10 years.
'Further, if 15% more people currently being treated for high blood pressure could control it better a further £120 million could be saved.'
How much magnesium does that body need?
In the UK, the recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300mg for men and 270mg for women.
Putting this into context, to obtain 270mg of magnesium you would have to eat 10 small bananas or 200g of dark chocolate (might not be so good for the waistline!)
Other foods high in magnesium include: almonds (268mg per 100g), brazil nuts (376mg per 100g), dark chocolate (146mg per 100g), milk chocolate (63mg per 100g), spinach (79mg per 100g), avocado (29mg per 100g) and bananas (27mg per 100g).
Alternatively you could opt for a magnesium supplement as a way of ensuring you receive a sufficient daily intake.