The dark truth about chocolate

Grand health claims have been made about chocolate, but while it gives us pleasure, can it really be good for us?

Chocolate has been touted as a treatment for agitation, anaemia, angina and asthma. It has been said to awaken appetite and act as an aphrodisiac. You may have noticed were still on the letter A.

More accurately, and to avoid adding to considerable existing confusion, it is the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree that have, over hundreds of years, been linked to cures and therapies for more than 100 diseases and conditions. Their status as a cure-all dates back over 2,000 years, having spread from the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs, via the Spanish conquistadors, into Europe from the 16th century.

The 19th century saw chocolate drinking become cheap enough to spread beyond the wealthy, the invention of solid chocolate and the development of milk chocolate. Later came the added sugar and fat content of todays snack bars and Easter eggs, which time-travelling Aztecs would probably struggle to associate with what they called the food of the gods.

Recent years have seen chocolate undergo another transformation, this time at the hands of branding experts. Sales of milk chocolate are stagnating as consumers become more health-conscious. Manufacturers have responded with a growing range of premium products promoted with such words as organic, natural, cacao-rich and single-origin. The packets dont say so, but the message were supposed to swallow is clear: this new, improved chocolate, especially if it is dark, is good for your health. Many people have swallowed the idea that its a superfood. Except it isnt. So how has this magic trick-like metamorphosis been achieved?

Its foundations lie in chocolate manufacturers having poured huge sums into funding nutrition science that has been carefully framed, interpreted and selectively reported to cast their products in a positive light over the last 20 years. For example, studies published last year found chocolate consumers to be at reduced risk of heart flutters, and that women who eat chocolate are less likely to suffer from strokes. Consuming chemicals called flavanols in cocoa was also linked to reduced blood pressure. In 2016, eating chocolate was linked to reduced risks of cognitive decline among those aged 65 and over, while cocoa flavanol consumption was linked to improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles markers of diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk.

Such studies have generated hundreds of media reports that exaggerate their findings, and omit key details and caveats. Crucially, most recent research has used much higher levels of flavanols than are available in commercial snack products. For example, the blood pressure study involved participants getting an average of 670mg of flavanols. Someone would need to consume about 12 standard 100g bars of dark chocolate or about 50 of milk chocolate per day to get that much. The European Food Safety Authority has approved one rather modest chocolate-related health claim that some specially processed dark chocolate, cocoa extracts and drinks containing 200mg of flavanols contribute to normal blood circulation by helping to maintain blood vessel elasticity.

cocoa
Cocoa pods harvested on the Millot plantation in the north-west of Madagascar. Photograph: Andia/UIG via Getty Images

Prof Marion Nestle, a nutritional scientist at New York University, uses the word nutrifluff to describe sensational research findings about a single food or nutrient based on one, usually highly preliminary, study. She points out that most studies on chocolate and health get industry funding, but journalists generally fail to highlight this. Industry-funded research tends to set up questions that will give them desirable results, and tends to be interpreted in ways that are beneficial to their interests, she says.

Research has repeatedly shown that when food companies are paying, they are more likely to get helpful results. US researchers who reviewed 206 studies about soft drinks, juice and milk, for example, found that those receiving industry money were six times more likely to produce favourable or neutral findings than those that did not. Most nutrition scientists who accept money from industry are in a state of denial, according to Nestle, whose book Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat is due to be published in October. The researchers involved feel it doesnt affect the integrity and quality of their work, she says. But research on drug industry funding shows the influence is generally unconscious, unintentional and unrecognised.

The public are also misled into believing chocolate is healthy through what scientists refer to as the file drawer effect. Two of the aforementioned studies those on blood pressure and markers of cardiovascular health are meta-analyses, meaning they pool the results of previously published research. The problem is that science journals, like the popular media, are more likely to publish findings that suggest chocolate is healthy than those that conclude it has no effect, which skews meta-analyses. Its really hard to publish something that doesnt find anything, says Dr Duane Mellor, a nutritionist at Coventry University who has studied cocoa and health. Theres a bias in the under-reporting of negative outcomes.

Then theres the problem that, unlike in drug trials, those taking part in chocolate studies often know whether they are being given chocolate or a placebo. Most people have positive expectations about chocolate because they like it. They are therefore primed, through the conditioning effect famously described by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov to respond positively. They may, for example, become more relaxed, boosting levels of endorphins and neurotransmitters, and triggering short-term physiological benefits.

The responses of study participants can be affected by their beliefs and assumptions about chocolate, says Mellor. Research has also found people who volunteer for studies are more likely to be affected by their beliefs about an intervention than the population as a whole.

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So hard to resist: a chocolate shop in Bruges, Belgium. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Many of the studies that involve people being given chocolate and tracking their health over time are short and have small numbers of participants. This adds to the difficulties nutritional scientists have in separating out the effects of consuming one food or nutrient from the rest of their diet and other variables and interactions within the body.

So when and why did chocolate companies become so keen on using science as a marketing tool? The answer depends on whom you ask.

During the 1990s, scientists became interested in the French paradox the now discredited observation that heart disease rates were low in France despite a national diet high in saturated fats. One proposed explanation was relatively high consumption of flavanols, a group of compounds found in red wine, tea and cocoa which, at high doses, had been linked to the prevention of cellular damage. US researchers caused a stir when from around the turn of the century they concluded that Kuna people off the coast of Panama had low blood pressure and rates of cardiovascular disease because they drank more than five cups of flavanol-rich cocoa per day.

This undoubtedly stimulated chocolate industry research. However in 2000, a Channel 4 documentary reported on the use of child labour and slavery in cocoa production operations in Ghana and Ivory Coast the source of most of the worlds chocolate. This triggered a wave of media reports and negative publicity.

Some say the industry poured money into science at this time to divert attention away from west Africa. Efforts by many of the large chocolate companies to demonstrate health effects started side by side with the outcry over the use of child labour and slavery, says Michael Coe, a retired anthropologist formerly of Yale University, co-author of The True History of Chocolate. Some of it was legitimate science, but it was stimulated, at least in part, by the need to say something positive about chocolate.

Industry figures strenuously disagree. There was no connection between those two things, says Matthias Berninger, vice-president for public affairs at Mars, Inc, when asked whether Coe is correct. The Kuna story sparked a lot of interest. The level of investment and energy and intensity of research was much more driven by that than it was by the idea of creating a halo around chocolate.

Critics have accused Mars in particular of using nutritional science to cast its products in a good light. Through its scientific arm, Mars Symbioscience, it has published more than 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers on cocoa flavanols and health since 2005.

The family-owned company has traditionally remained tight-lipped about its involvement in cocoa research. However, last month it published its policies on conducting and funding research. Asked whether it had previously been involved in using research to suggest chocolate was healthy, Berninger says: I do believe that that was so tempting, Mars couldnt resist it. If you look back 20 years, there was this idea that this could create huge opportunities for us.

But he says this changed long ago. As a marketing strategy, we have not engaged in that for more than a decade. In 2007, the European Union tightened regulations on nutrition and health claims. Meanwhile, research was making it increasingly clear that health benefits claims for commercial dark chocolate products were unrealistic because of their low flavanol content.

Yet campaigners highlight how chocolate companies, including Mars, have fought public health regulations that might undermine their profits using third parties. US public health lawyer Michele Simon produced hard-hitting reports in 2013 and 2015, documenting how the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the American Society of Nutrition (ASN), were receiving large sponsorship fees from major food industry companies. In 2014, the ASN had gone in to bat on behalf of its corporate backers, including Coca-Cola, Mars and McDonalds, against a US government plan for added sugar content to be included on food labels, and questioning the evidence on their negative health effects. A year earlier, the AND stated its support for a total diet approach, and opposition to the overly simplistic classification of specific foods as good or bad. Its about co-opting health organisations, and buying legitimacy among professionals and members of the public, says Andy Bellatti, co-founder of US-based Dietitians for Professional Integrity.

Chocolate manufacturers have also used the classic corporate strategy of using third-party lobbyists to manufacture artificial scientific controversy. Science is, by its nature, about evidence-based probabilities not absolute certainties. The exaggeration of uncertainty was perfected by the tobacco companies in the 1950s, and later copied by the asbestos and oil industries. Chocolate makers have done this through lobbying groups such as the Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which campaigned against added sugar labelling in the US, and opposed the World Health Organisations 2015 advice that less than 10% of daily energy intake should come from free sugars those added to food and drinks and occurring naturally in honey and fruit juice.

Criticisms of these tactics seem to be hitting home. Mars broke ranks with fellow chocolate-making ILSI members including Nestl, Hershey and Mondelz, which owns Cadbury, in 2016 when it denounced a paper funded by the group questioning research linking sugar consumption and poor health, and related health advice. Last month Mars announced it was leaving ILSI.

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Dont count on it: large quantities of the flavanols found in chocolate need to be consumed before they will have an impact on blood pressure. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Marss Berninger agrees that the chocolate industry could do more to prevent the spread of health myths. Chocolate is a treat you should enjoy occasionally and in small portions, not a health food, he says. Did we say that loud enough over the last 10 years? I would say no.

Public health campaigners welcome Marss new stance. Some see it as a genuine attempt to do the right thing, while others highlight how large food companies are seeking to reposition themselves in the face of growing environmental and health concerns. Whatever the motivation, the gulf between the chocolate industry and its critics seems to be narrowing.

Children hoping to celebrate Easter in the traditional chocolatey style on 1 April will be reassured to hear the two sides also agree on another aspect of the debate. While chocolate is probably not healthy, its also not harmful when enjoyed in sensible amounts, says Mellor. Chocolate is candy, adds Nestle. As part of a reasonable diet, its fine in moderation.

You can say anything with figures

The role of the media in helping chocolate makers exploit our failure to grasp the complexities of nutrition science was laid bare in a 2015 expos. German television journalists set up a three-week study in which they asked one group of volunteers to follow a low-carb diet, another to do the same but add a daily chocolate bar, a third to make no change to their diet. Both low-carb groups lost an average of 5lb, but the chocolate group lost weight faster. By measuring 18 different things in a small number of people, the spoofers made it likely they would find statistically significant but fake benefits of eating chocolate.

The peer-reviewed International Archives of Internal Medicine agreed to publish a hastily written paper within 24 hours of receiving it for a fee of 600. John Bohannon, a Harvard University biologist and science journalist in on the hoax, put together a press release. Within days stories had been published in more than 20 countries. The Mail Online, Daily Express, Daily Star and Bild were among those that fell for it.

I was just really ashamed for my colleagues, says Bohannon. These are people who regurgitate whole chunks of press releases and almost never call on outside sources. In my book, thats not even journalism. Its just an extension of PR.

Big Food: Critical Perspectives on the Global Growth of the Food and Beverage Industry, edited by Simon N Williams and Marion Nestle, is published by Routledge

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/25/chocolate-the-dark-truth-is-it-good-for-you-health-wellbeing-blood-pressure-flavanols

White Coats Making Blood Pressure Rise?

High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney failure if left untreated. But for some people, a higher-than-normal reading may be triggered just by visiting a doctor.

“White Coat Hypertension has been defined as the person who comes into the physician’s office and the blood pressure is elevated, but when they go back home or outside the physician’s office it’s within the normal range,” explains Dr. Gary Goforth, a family physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Although it may not truly reflect a patient’s condition, white coat hypertension or syndrome is very real, elevating blood pressure even 15-20 points whenever a susceptible patient walks through the door.

“Some people say it’s the doctors white coat that makes people nervous and their blood pressure goes up – so we have our nurses take it but it still goes up for them too.”

Blood pressure can rise and fall throughout the day for a variety of reasons. But if it’s jittery nerves that are behind the boost, experts suggest you take several readings at home if possible – because there’s strength in numbers.

“You need to get multiple readings on different days. If they have a device that they can measure it accurately I’ll just have them check it at home and have them bring those numbers,” says Dr. Goforth.

Once dismissed as ‘not serious’ research finds that 50% people who suffer from white coat hypertension go on to get the real thing. So before you discount it, try to listening to your heart. And use the opportunity to make healthy changes

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High Blood Pressure — The Urgency Room — an educational care video

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L120Y | HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE | LIVING A LONG LIFE

The Pharmaceutical Industry Has Moved The Goal Post More Than Once On What They Consider Is High Blood Pressure And High Cholesterol, Each Time They Moved It They Made Millions Of Dollars On Drug Sales.

A caller (Tom) from Pennsylvania asked Dr. G about his blood pressure problem. The caller (Tom) is a 64 year old male who stands at 6 ft. and weighs 200 lbs. He has had anxiety disease since 1994. His blood pressure readings go up to about 187/111 when sitting up. Lying down, it goes down close to normal at 150/80 or 140/80. Sometimes his blood pressure is lower than that at 110/65.

The pharmaceutical industry has moved the goal post on the bottom line for blood pressure the same way they moved the goal post for total cholesterol. Before, the upper limit of cholesterol was 220 and then they moved it to 205, 200 and then 199. Each time they moved it they made millions of dollars on drug sales. They did the same with high blood pressure.

Years ago, an MD couldn't reasonably put somebody on blood pressure medication unless they had three consecutive readings where each number was elevated. Both numbers need to be elevated above 140/90. Not only did both numbers have to be elevated but they have to be elevated three times in a row in order for somebody to be technically given a diagnosis of high blood pressure which would stand up in court. Now, the MDs have moved the goal post. Now, if they see one of the numbers elevated, one time, at what they consider normal, they put you on blood pressure medication because they call it pre-hypertension. The rationale is, one, they have no idea what causes it. Two, they have no concern to find out what causes it. Three, as far as they're concerned it's only going to get worse. Four, it's called a silent killer for a reason so you have to go on blood pressure medication because it's going to save your life. That's why they do it. And that's how they justify it.

In this case, we can say that the patient does not have hypertension. It's only borderline hypertension. If it's hypertension then the numbers would be high regardless if the readings are taken while sitting up or lying down. Interestingly, one of the sayings in diagnostic science is when you're trying to figure something out diagnostically is when you hear hoof beats you think about horses before you think about camels. This means that you think about common things that cause things before you start hearing about weird things that cause things.

The most common cause of high blood pressure is not enough calcium and magnesium. The most common cause of anxiety is lack of calcium and magnesium. Therefore, as an experiment, what you need to do is get on a wholistic medical nutrition program, give your body the ninety essential nutrients that it needs, and a little bit of extra calcium. You also need to stop eating foods that interfere with the body's absorption of calcium. Probably it's not even going to take twelve weeks for you to feel a noticeable difference. After that, look to see how you feel. You will definitely love how you feel. You can also check out other great articles on more heath topics at www.wholisticdudes.com/blog.

JOIN OUR TEAM for more detailed information & support. We are educating the peeps on how to live a long live with good healthy habits & wholistic medical nutrition!!! www.L120Y.com/8110-2.

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Natural Remedies For Hypertension or High Blood Pressure Video Discussion

video discussion on Natural Remedies For Hypertension or high blood pressure.
We do not know the exact level at which high blood pressure begins to be damaging, but statistical comparisons show that vascular diseases are more common as the blood pressure rises. Since high blood pressure seems to have a definite tendency to be inherited, those having high blood pressure in the family should be especially careful on all the points given to prevent the disorder. The following items are given to assist one to keep a normal blood pressure:

Exercise is important in keeping the blood vessels in healthy tone, equalizing the “tensions” between the autonomic and somatic divisions of the nervous system, and in clearing the blood of excessive fats or sugars. Do some useful labor, such as gardening or yard work, at a moderate pace for about one hour each day. The pace should be what is described as “vigorous but not violent.” Outdoor labor is usually more beneficial than indoor labor. Even the sense of satisfaction of work well done is stabilizing to the blood pressure.
Run in place for six minutes twice daily to reduce the blood pressure.
Starting with the muscles of the legs, thighs, and back, tense the muscles as much as possible and hold for several seconds. Gradually relax. Next, tense the muscles of the abdomen and chest. Repeat the tensing and slow relaxation process with these areas until all tension is gone. Proceed to the arms, neck, and head. Use this routine twice a day.
As a tranquilizer, take a long walk at a rapid pace to use up excess nervous energy. Concentrate on the beauties of nature, the sky and trees, the rocks and flowers as you walk. The stress of life can be largely eliminated by proper attention to exercise, a non-stimulatory diet, and a proper philosophy of life. There should not be enough stress within the available number of hours per day to cause a healthy person to have a breakdown, either mental or physical. A long walk at a rapid pace or vigorous gardening can reduce nervous tension.
Practice a deep breathing exercise three times daily. The deep breathing exercise consists of taking a very deep breath held to the count of twenty, exhaling and holding to the count of ten. This can be done while driving. Repeat twenty to sixty times.
Diet is important is five ways: First, use a non-stimulatory diet, free from caffeine drinks, chocolate, alcohol, spices, and fermented or aged products. A substance in cheese called tyrosine breaks down to tyramine, a chemical capable of constricting blood vessels and causing headaches or an increase in blood pressure. It is well for all to leave off cheese for the sake of healthy blood vessel reactions. Second, use few concentrated foods, but eat freely of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—non-concentrated foods. Third, to prevent high blood pressure, do not use more than one-half to one teaspoon of salt per day. Baking soda and baking powder are also high in sodium, as well as being unhealthful in other ways. All baked goods using these substances should be avoided. After high blood pressure has developed, salt, baking soda, baking powder, most antacids, even toothpaste and all other sources of sodium may need to be eliminated for a time until the blood pressure is entirely normal and stable. Do not forget that sodium is in many over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Sodium is present in most antacids. Fourth, free fats promote high blood pressure. The blood vessels are apparently sensitive to fats and the entire cardiovascular system responds to their presence by maintaining greater tension. Fifth, the diet must be such as to reduce the weight if it is above ideal.
In a program to reduce severely elevated blood pressure, begin with a day of fasting, followed by three days in which only apples are eaten (raw, cooked, stewed, dried or frozen) at each of three meals. Apples have been found by Dr. B. S. Levin to have a beneficial effect on the blood pressure. After the three days of apples, for the following two days eat only fruit and salt-free whole grain bread for breakfast, and vegetables and the salt-free bread for dinner. Eat only one apple for supper (omit supper if overweight).

How to Take High Blood Pressure Medication

Are you taking your blood pressure medication the right way? Professor Lisa Lewis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing offers guidance.

Lisa M. Lewis, PhD, RN

Dr. Lewis studies hypertension among African Americans, spirituality and its relationship to health, and the development of nurses and scholars who are able to provide culturally competent care for diverse populations.

Copyright © 2012 University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.
For commercial use, please contact the Center for Technology Transfer of the University of Pennsylvania. Online – , Phone – 215-898-9591.

This material is the intellectual property of the University of Pennsylvania. All federal and state copyrights are reserved for all original material presented in this course through any medium, including video and printouts. All materials provided in this course are for your personal, noncommercial use only and may not be copied and redistributed to others without the prior permission of the University of Pennsylvania.

High Blood Pressure: Why You Need to Take Your Medication

Why should you take medicine for your high blood pressure? Professor Lisa Lewis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing explains.

Lisa M. Lewis, PhD, RN

Dr. Lewis studies hypertension among African Americans, spirituality and its relationship to health, and the development of nurses and scholars who are able to provide culturally competent care for diverse populations.

Copyright © 2012 University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.
For commercial use, please contact the Center for Technology Transfer of the University of Pennsylvania. Online – , Phone – 215-898-9591.

This material is the intellectual property of the University of Pennsylvania. All federal and state copyrights are reserved for all original material presented in this course through any medium, including video and printouts. All materials provided in this course are for your personal, noncommercial use only and may not be copied and redistributed to others without the prior permission of the University of Pennsylvania.

Home Remedy for High Blood Pressure that Works – How To Lower High Blood Pressure Naturally

The videos show how to lower high blood pressure naturally at home. This remedy is my grandmother's trick and it worked well for her Hypertension for years without taking any medicine. The remedy reduces your high blood pressure safely but not immediately, and helps you to maintain normal blood pressure consistently. The great thing about this remedy is that it can made easily at your home.

All you need is a potato, beetroot and olive oil. First, bake the potato with skin and boil the beetroot with skin in water. Later peel the skin and mash them. Add olive oil and eat it. It is vey easy to control high blood pressure with this home remedy.

Herbal Remedies to Lower High BP

1. Garlic is a major blood pressure herb. The sulphides in garlic bring down elevated pressure. One should consume 2-3 cloves of garlic daily.

2. Hawthorn is a beneficial herb for boosting heart function. It dilates arteries and allows easy coronary blood flow, thereby lowering BP.

3. Withania somnifera or ashwagandha is also an important BP lowering herb.

4. Ginger, another important herb lowers BP by relaxing muscles around blood vessels, toning up blood circulation and reducing cholesterol.

5. Red clover, an herb is known for its blood thinning properties. Thus it lowers blood pressure by allowing smooth flow of blood through arteries.

6. Kelp, a seaweed also lowers BP due to its capacity to thin the blood

7. Cinnamon, a healing herb rich in antioxidants, brings down LDL Cholesterol levels, makes body responsive to insulin and reduces BP.

8. Turmeric is also an effective herb. It contains curcumin, an antioxidant that improves blood circulation and strengthens blood vessels.

9. Olive leaf extracts are useful for checking irregular heart beats and lowering BP.

10. Gingko biloba, another herb, helps in expanding arteries, improving blood flow and supply of blood to the brain.

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High Blood Pressure and African Americans

African-Americans develop high blood pressure early in life. Professor Lisa Lewis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing talks about prevention and detection.

Lisa M. Lewis, PhD, RN

Dr. Lewis studies hypertension among African Americans, spirituality and its relationship to health, and the development of nurses and scholars who are able to provide culturally competent care for diverse populations.

Copyright © 2012 University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.
For commercial use, please contact the Center for Technology Transfer of the University of Pennsylvania. Online – , Phone – 215-898-9591.

This material is the intellectual property of the University of Pennsylvania. All federal and state copyrights are reserved for all original material presented in this course through any medium, including video and printouts. All materials provided in this course are for your personal, noncommercial use only and may not be copied and redistributed to others without the prior permission of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Cause Of Hypertension or High Blood Pressure (Video Discussion)

In this video we will learn the causes of hypertension. Adventist Health Study 2 found that vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than omnivorous Adventists. Moreover, after making adjustment for age and gender, systolic blood pressure was significantly lower in vegans/lacto-ovo vegetarians when compared to non-vegetarians, and results were broadly similar for diastolic blood pressure.
High blood pressure gives few symptoms and most people feel healthy during the early stages. Yet, if undetected and untreated, high blood pressure can be a contributing cause of heart trouble, blood vessel disease, and degenerative disease of the kidneys. Reaction to various physical and emotional influences may cause the blood pressure to rise. These influences include diet, exercise, exposure to cold, anxiety, quarrelsomeness in the home, guilt, or other emotional distress. Blood pressure thus elevated can remain at an unhealthy high, even if it fluctuates up and down for a time.

A low blood pressure is desirable, apparently the lower the better. We do not recognize medically a blood pressure reading that is too low, except in cases of shock. When the blood pressure is low, if the pulse pressure is sufficient to maintain circulation, it is considered normal. Pulse pressure is the difference between the systolic and the diastolic readings (the high and low readings) obtained in determining the blood pressure. The average pulse pressure is 40; if it falls below 10, it is inadequate to maintain circulation.

We do not know the exact level at which high blood pressure begins to be damaging, but statistical comparisons show that vascular diseases are more common as the blood pressure rises. Since high blood pressure seems to have a definite tendency to be inherited, those having high blood pressure in the family should be especially careful on all the points given to prevent the disorder. The following items are given to assist one to keep a normal blood pressure: