Did you know 28% of Americans have high blood pressure and aren’t aware of it? High blood pressure has no symptoms and it is the main culprit behind heart attacks and strokes.
If you have high blood pressure, do not ignore it. If left untreated and uncontrolled, you are increasing the risk of serious heart issues.
Ways To Lower Blood Pressure
There are ways to bring down blood pressure without taking medication. Here are a few natural ways to help you lower it.
1. Reduce Salt In Your Diet
If you are looking to reduce your blood pressure, cut down on salt. When your diet is rich in salt, it makes the body retain water. When the body can’t flush out excess water, your blood pressure shoots up. Also, sodium content in salt has been found to raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke. If you think you aren’t sprinkling a lot of salt into your dishes, remember, a lot of hidden salt creeps into processed food. Even breakfast cereals and breads. One study found out people were getting 80% of salt from hidden sources and only 20% from adding salt while cooking.1
2. Be Physically Active
The body needs regular physical activity to work efficiently. Being active stabilizes blood pressure and keeps your heart strong. Aerobic exercises are extremely beneficial to lower blood pressure. Cycling, jogging, swimming, and dancing are great activities for a healthy heart. Stick to at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Or aim for a 30-minute brisk walk daily.2Make sure to consult with your doctor before you start doing any form of exercise.
3. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight puts a lot of strain on your heart and blood pressure. Your heart needs to work extra even during low-intensity tasks. Being your ideal weight (based on BMI) can keep your blood pressure in control. Aim to lose at least 5% of body mass to reduce blood pressure.3
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol in the body can raise blood pressure. It could even negate the effects of the medication taken to control blood pressure. If you can’t quit drinking, drink moderately. A few studies suggest light drinking could keep your heart healthy. Doctors suggest drinking not more than one glass for women and two glasses for men, any more than that is harmful to your blood pressure.
5. Eat Loads Of Fruits And Veggies
The heart loves fruits and green leafy veggies. Numerous studies reveal you can lower blood pressure by adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet, especially potassium-rich foods. Potassium has been found to reverse the effects of salt on blood pressure.4 Make sure to have bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, and berries. Have a bowl of leafy greens and snack on fruits daily.
While you’re at it, try to avoid saturated fat (red meat, pork) as much as you can. A diet high in saturated fat raises cholesterol levels and can clog up arteries. If you have high blood pressure, cholesterol levels need to be in check.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about eating with attention and listening to your body’s requirements. Try understanding the food you eat. Ask yourself questions. Is this food good for my heart and body? Am I really hungry? Read food labels. It doesn’t mean you restrict yourself completely. It’s just making good decisions for your body.
7. Take Control Over Stress
Being constantly in a flight or fight situation is the worst thing for your blood pressure. The more you are stressed out in life, the more strain on your heart, and this narrows down blood vessels. Meditation and practicing yoga can help gain control over stress. One study found out practicing mindful meditation decreased blood pressure in 8 weeks.5 Even just 10 minutes of meditation can help you feel relaxed and collected throughout the day.
8. Stop Smoking
The chemicals that get released into your system from a cigarette can congest blood vessels, block arteries, and damage artery walls. Also, studies have found you increase the risk of getting a heart attack if you smoke and if you have high blood pressure. The earlier you quit, the safer your heart.
9. Reduce Caffeine
There are conflicting theories about caffeine and blood pressure. Caffeine can raise your blood pressure for a short-term duration. Some experts claim excessive caffeine consumption has the same effects as that of stress. It narrows down blood vessels and this could raise blood pressure. For a healthier option, switch to decaf.
10. Have A Work-Life Balance
Did you know people who work more than 41 hours a week increase the risk of hypertension by 15%? When you are working overtime regularly, your stress levels get extremely high. Your body has no time to heal and renew itself. Your heart needs to work a lot more to support you. We know it’s hard but try to build a routine that gives you balance at home and your office. Just ensure you build enough time to unwind and cook yourself a decent meal every day, or at least on most days.
11. Sort Out Any Sleep Issues
If you are having constant sleep difficulties, it affects the stress hormones, and this, in turn, will raise blood pressure. Sleeping for less than 5 or 6 hours daily increases the risk or worsens high blood pressure. One study revealed people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure.6Make sure to sort out sleep problems.
These methods should help you gain better control over high blood pressure. While these steps are beneficial for a healthy blood pressure, please consult with your doctor before avoiding or reducing medication.
|↑1||How to eat less salt. Blood Pressure UK.|
|↑2||Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart. The American Heart Association.|
|↑3||Earnest, Conrad P., and Timothy S. Church. “Evaluation of a Voluntary Work Site Weight Loss Program on Hypertension.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 58, no. 12 (2016): 1207-1211|
|↑4||Utsugi, Megumi T., Takayoshi Ohkubo, Masahiro Kikuya, Ayumi Kurimoto, Rie I. Sato, Kazuhiro Suzuki, Hirohito Metoki, Azusa Hara, Yoshitaka Tsubono, and Yutaka Imai. “Fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of hypertension determined by self measurement of blood pressure at home: the Ohasama study.” Hypertension Research 31, no. 7 (2008): 1435-1443|
|↑5||Hughes, Joel W., David M. Fresco, Rodney Myerscough, Manfred van Dulmen, Linda E. Carlson, and Richard Josephson. “Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for prehypertension.” Psychosomatic medicine 75, no. 8 (2013)|
|↑6||Kario, Kazuomi. “Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and hypertension: ambulatory blood pressure.” Hypertension research 32, no. 6 (2009): 428-432|