Natural ways to lower blood pressure
Wondering how to reduce blood pressure naturally? You’re not alone! The good news: the best things you can do for your blood pressure are healthy habits that everyone should adopt for a host of reasons.
The Big Four
These four lifestyle choices are the cornerstone of heart health. Do these and you should be golden!
Physical activity helps control your blood pressure, manage your weight, strengthen your heart, and lower your stress level. A strong heart, healthy weight, and good emotional health are all good for your blood pressure. If your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump blood, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Popular aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and dancing. The key is to find something that you like doing – that way you’ll have a better chance of sticking with it.
Your choice of food plays a big part in managing your blood pressure. Here are some general guidelines for what should and shouldn’t be on your plate.
Pass the potassium
Potassium is important for good health. It helps lessen the effect of sodium (salt) in your body and can help lower blood pressure. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that an adult eating 3,500 mgs of potassium a day may benefit blood pressure, but you should check with your doctor how much potassium is good for you.
3,500 mgs of potassium is easily attainable by eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Foods rich in potassium include white beans, potatoes, green vegetables, dried apricots, salmon, and various kinds of fruit.
Some great choices include:
• Bananas: Rich in potassium and fiber
• Berries, especially blueberries: Packed with nitric oxide, a gas that helps increase blood flow
• Avocados: Great source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium
• Peaches and nectarines: Rich in potassium
• Pomegranates: Rich in antioxidants
Say no to sodium
Eating too much salt can make your body retain water which in turn makes your heart work harder. Major culprits of excess salt are canned, packaged, frozen foods, and sauces. Remember, aim for less than 1 teaspoon of salt a day.
To stay healthy, avoid the following:
• Processed foods like lunch meats, sausage, bacon, and ham
• Canned soups and dried soup mixes
• Snack foods like popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, and chips
• Food that is pickled or marinated in brine (vinegar or lemon juice-based marinades are OK)
Tip: Do not add table salt to your meal, and always read nutrition labels to see how much sodium is in each serving.
Choose your fats wisely
Eating foods that contain saturated fats (animal fats like butter, cream, and meat) raises your cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats such as walnuts, seeds, plant oils, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring. Eating unsaturated fats as part of a healthy diet will help reduce risk for heart disease.
All about the DASH diet
Want to try to reduce your risk of heart failure by 50%? Check out the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Created by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to help lower blood pressure, the DASH diet has many proven benefits. If you want to learn more, we have a DASH starter guide for you as well as tips for grocery shopping, cooking and dining out.
This is arguably the simplest way to reduce blood pressure naturally in that you don’t have to do anything. Just don’t pick up that cigarette (and stay away from secondhand smoke). Of course, that is easier said than done. Maybe this stat will help: in the first 20 minutes after you quit smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure recover from nicotine-induced spikes. Talk about instant gratification! After a year of not smoking, you’ve slashed your risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. And so on…15 years of being smoke free and your risk of heart disease is the same as someone who never touched a cigarette. You can learn more about smoking and your blood pressure here.
Finding ways to reduce stress is important not just for your general health, but also for your blood pressure. There are lots of different ways to reduce stress, and it’s important to find what works for you and your lifestyle. Deep breathing exercises, taking a walk, reading a book, listening to music, or watching a comedy are all great stress relievers.
In addition to a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise, many people find yoga and meditation help reduce their high blood pressure. Both are great stress reduction techniques that help relax the body, slow the heart rate, and lower blood pressure. Try incorporating one or both into your daily routine.
With all of life’s competing pressures, it can be challenging to find time for ourselves. However, it’s essential that you designate time for doing things to help you relax. It may help to schedule a slot on your calendar or to set a reminder on your phone. Make it happen!
More Do’s and Don’ts
The four healthy habits above get lots of airtime, and they are super important, but don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.
Get some sleep – Yes, really!
A good sleep pattern may help reduce hypertension. Studies have shown that getting less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis may increase the chance of hypertension. Regularly getting less than 5 hours a night is linked to a significant risk of long-term hypertension.
Research also shows that insufficient sleep affects your metabolism. Low-quality sleep affects appetite-related hormones and can make you feel hungrier and increase your cravings for high-calorie and high-carbohydrate foods. Regularly getting 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep helps maintain healthy weight, makes losing weight easier and can also increase your motivation to exercise.
Looking for more natural remedies to lower blood pressure? Give these a try.
Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine may cause a brief but significant increase in your blood pressure. It’s unclear why caffeine causes this spike. Studies show that 200–300 mg of caffeine from coffee — approximately 1.5 – 2 cups — resulted in an average increase of 8 mm Hg and 6 mm Hg in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, consult with your doctor about what is right for you.
Think before you drink
Excessive drinking can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Alcohol’s empty calories will not do your waistline any favors. Alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness of, and increase the side effects, of some blood pressure medications. If you enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail and you have high blood pressure, remember to drink in moderation to protect your health. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Monitor your blood pressure at home
The Mayo Clinic recommends monitoring your blood pressure at home as one way of controlling your blood pressure naturally. Taking regular readings is a great way to get you closer to reaching your health goals. Make sure you use a credible and FDA cleared blood pressure monitor like Dario.
5 more foods for lowering blood pressure
These recommendations are super-specific. See if they work for you.
- Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa
- Beet juice
- Probiotics like yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut
- Skim milk
Ready to control your blood pressure naturally?
You don’t need to do it all at once, of course. Choose a few changes each week that are realistic for you to implement. Try a new food or gym class. Listen to a mindfulness podcast or watch your favorite show. Commit to a certain number of hours of sleep. It all helps!
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.