I just saw this and thought I’d pass it along. Folic acid is so important for cardiovascular function that a major 1995 study concluded that 400 micrograms per day of folic acid could prevent 28,000 cardiovascular deaths per year in the United States. The average daily intake of folic acid is 280 to 300 micrograms, about half of which is absorbed.
I’m not in Kentucky but am in the south and know how hard it can be. Good luck with everything! Liz
Research published in the January 2005 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, continues to underscore how important a diet centered around folate-rich leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and legumes is for healthy blood pressure.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham Young Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, worked together to conduct two very large prospective studies, one of 93,803 younger women (27 to 44 years) and a second including 62,260 older women (43 to 70 years). Both groups were drawn from women in the Nurses Health Study. All study participants were free of hypertension when the research began, and both groups of women were followed for 8 years.
The results: Women consuming high amounts of folate (dietary folate plus folic acid-containing supplements) had a significantly decreased risk of hypertension.
Younger women getting at least 800 micrograms of folate daily had a 45% lower risk of developing high blood pressure compared to women consuming less than 200 micrograms per day.
Older women who consumed at least 800 micrograms of folate daily had a 39% lower risk of developing hypertension.
Another study published in the May 2005 Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests folate’s effects are so powerful it can even be used in very high doses to acutely lower blood pressure in men and women with coronary artery disease.
Though small, this was a very good study-a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial that involved 13 men and one woman with significant coronary artery disease (>50% stenosis in at least one coronary artery).
Giving these subjects high dose folic acid (30 mg in two divided doses, 10-12 hours and 1 hour before testing) effectively lowered their blood pressure (5-mm Hg) and significantly increased blood flow to the heart by 49%, and dilator reserve (the difference between peak blood flow to the heart and resting blood flow to the heart) by 83%! Folate is abundant in a wide variety of vegetables. Excellent sources include leafy greens (romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and lentils. Very good sources include most beans (black, garbanzo, pinto, navy, green beans), Brussels sprouts, celery, red bell peppers summer squash, cabbage and fennel.
L-arginine is a common amino acid from food, but its importance increases in those with hypertension. In the body (specifically within those hard-working blood vessels) it is converted into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep the inner walls of blood vessels smooth and normally allows blood vessels to relax (among many other extremely important functions).
Individuals with hypertension have a harder time maintaining normal nitric oxide levels, which may also relate to other significant health issues such as diabetes and heart problems. The kidneys are particularly sensitive to the levels of l-arginine, nitric oxide, and related chemicals. Stressful experiences and aging may also result in lower l-arginine levels.
Dietary intake levels of l-arginine vary considerably, but they range from 1 to over 4 grams per day. The consumption of nuts, which contain relatively high levels of arginine, has a very strong negative correlation to the risk of coronary events.
Soy flour, wheat bran, hazelnuts, and walnuts all contain high levels of both arginine and folic acid.