Battling Blood Pressure Linda Milo Ohr | October 2013, Volume 67, No.10


In the United States, more than 77 million adults have diagnosed high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Sodium intake is most commonly adjusted when trying to control blood pressure levels. While the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium daily, the Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming less than 2,300 mg per day.

In May 2013, DSM Food Specialties, Delft, the Netherlands (, conducted an international perception survey around food and taste with 5,000 18–45-year-old subjects (50:50, men:women) from emerging markets Brazil, China, Nigeria, and Poland as well as the U.S. (DSM Food Specialties, 2013). One finding was that there is uncertainty about recommended salt intake: only half (51%) of the adults surveyed believe the recommended daily intake for salt is 5 g or less. In addition, about half (49%) believe they consume 5 g or less of salt daily, while nearly one in three believes they consume more than 10 g a day. However, these perceptions about amount of daily salt intake do not align with actual consumption data. The study found that residents of some countries are consuming three times the recommended daily amount.

Another recent study supported by Tate & Lyle, Decatur, Ill. (, indicated that in the U.S., sodium intake has been on an upward trend, increasing by 63 mg of sodium per day every 2 years from 2001 to 2010 (Tate & Lyle, 2013). The study used data from the What We Eat in America (WWEIA)/National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess overall sodium intake and sources of sodium in the diets of those two years of age and older from 2001 to 2010. The largest contributor of sodium in the diet was grains and grain products (i.e., breads, cereals, and salty snacks), followed by meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and milk and milk products. 

With the release of these two studies, both companies highlighted their ingredient solutions to reduce sodium intake. DSM’s ingredients include a broad selection of 100% natural yeast extracts and process flavors. By activating taste receptors, particularly umami, in the mouth and throat, yeast extract-based flavorings can help compensate for the taste losses that are usually associated with salt reduction. Rich in natural free glutamate, Gistex® HUM LS strengthens bouillon notes and enhances the umami character in soups, meat, and fish products. Maxarome® Pure and Maxarome® Select contain highly neutral taste-enhancing nucleotides to provide a  lingering salty taste in milder culinary flavored products. 

Tate & Lyle offers SODA-LO™ Salt Microspheres, a salt-reduction ingredient that tastes, labels, and functions like salt because it is real salt. It can reduce sodium by 25–50% in food applications such as bread and salty snacks that are some of the largest contributors of sodium to the diet. It does this through its patent-pending technology that turns standard salt crystals into free-flowing, hollow salt microspheres that increase the perception of saltiness on the tongue. 

In addition to reducing sodium levels in foods and beverages, other ingredients and whole foods have been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure. Here are brief descriptions of them. 

GNC products formulated with MegaNatural®-BPGrape Seed Extract
A human clinical study conducted by University of California–Davis researchers showed that a patented grape seed extract, MegaNatural-BP from Polyphenolics, Madera, Calif. (, may help to lower blood pressure (Polyphenolics, 2013a). Grape seed extract significantly lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure among 32 pre-hypertensive adult subjects after just eight weeks. “This study showed that the extract when administered orally at a dose of 300 mg daily resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure,” commented lead researcher C. Tissa Kappagoda, a professor and the director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. 

The results from another human clinical study using MegaNatural-BP conducted by researchers at the Center for Nutrition Research, Institute of Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology, were presented by Britt Burton-Freeman and Eunyoung Park at Experimental Biology 2013 (Polyphenolics, 2013b). In the randomized, placebo-controlled study, 36 prehypertensive adult subjects were randomized to drink either a beverage formulated with MegaNatural-BP or a placebo daily for six weeks. At the end of the study, those participants who consumed the drink containing the patented grape seed extract formula on average experienced significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with those who consumed the placebo. 

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