About one-third of all American adults suffer from high blood pressure, known as hypertension, putting them at risk for serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke (source). Medication is a common treatment but only controls the symptoms. If you’re struggling to get your numbers down, get to the root of the cause with these 10 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.
10 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
A healthy blood pressure is defined as 120/80 mm Hg or less (source). The top, or systolic, number indicates the pressure inside the arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number, called diastolic, shows the pressure between beats. A few modifications in diet and lifestyle may be all it takes to reach the recommended levels.
Adopt a Plant-Based Diet
Reducing or eliminating animal products from your diet and replacing them with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds can improve blood flow and reduce pressure levels. One study showed “going veg” can lower readings by as much as 7/5 mm Hg (source).
Step Up Your Exercise Plan
Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes per day improves circulation and increases cardiovascular endurance. A well-balanced plan includes aerobic exercise, high-intensity cardio, and strength training. Work with a trainer if necessary to find the best program for you.
Keep Weight in Check
Reaching a healthy weight can have a significant effect on blood pressure. If you need to lose weight, focus on eating more vegetables, limiting your intake of sugar and fat, and exercising regularly. If you’re at a healthy weight, continue taking steps to maintain it.
Consuming just a few tablespoons per day of ground flax seed can lower blood pressure up to 15 mm Hg (source). Try it sprinkled on oatmeal, mixed into salad dressing, or added to healthy baked goods.
Consume Potassium-Rich Foods
By both balancing sodium and relaxing blood vessels, potassium helps keep blood pressure in check. This abundant mineral is readily available from plant-based foods, including tomatoes, dried fruits, avocados, bananas, legumes, and green and orange vegetables.
Magnesium, an essential element of the human body, may lower blood pressure. Although it doesn’t produce dramatic effects, it may help people with magnesium deficiencies or insufficiencies (source). Up your intake by adding more leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains to your diet. Hemp, pumpkin, and chia seeds are also good sources of magnesium.
Drink Hibiscus Tea
If you’re already suffering from hypertension, try drinking some hibiscus tea each day. Studies show that drinking three cups of herbal tea containing hibiscus each day will lower your blood pressure (source). Due to the acidic nature of hibiscus, be sure to rinse your mouth well with water after consumption.
Beets deserve a mention on the list of 10 ways to lower your blood pressure because of the nitrates they contain (source). The body converts these to nitric oxide, a compound responsible for proper blood vessel dilation. Beets may be juiced or consumed in their whole form.
Skip the Salt
U.S. guidelines recommend keeping sodium intake under 1,500 milligrams per day (source). Most dietary sodium is found in processed foods, so switching to low- or no-salt packaged products and eating more fresh, home-cooked meals is the best way to cut down.
Smoking a cigarette spurs an instant increase in blood pressure (source), and continuing to smoke can greatly increase your risk of heart disease. If you’re having trouble quitting, seek help from a physician or support group.
According to U.S. guidelines, cardiovascular disease risk “begins at 155/75 mm Hg and doubles with each increment of 20/10 mm Hg” (source). We encourage you to embrace smart dietary choices and lifestyle habits to keep your blood pressure under control and promote lifelong health. Abiding by these 10 ways to lower your blood pressure is a great place to start.
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