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15 natural ways to lower your blood pressure

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If blood pressure is high for a prolonged period, it can cause damage to your heart. It affects 1 out of 3 Americans and 1 billion people worldwide.1, 2).

High blood pressure can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease if it is not controlled.

There are many things that you can do to lower your blood pressure, even without medication.

Here are 15 natural ways that high blood pressure can be treated.

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Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure. Image credit: FatCamera/Getty Images

Exercise is one of your best options to lower blood pressure.

Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and make it more efficient at pumping blood. This lowers your blood pressure.

150 minutes of moderate exercise, such a walking, or 75 minutes, of vigorous exercise per week can help lower blood sugar and improve heart health.3).

Some research also suggests that more exercise can lower your blood pressure.4).

Bottom line:Your blood pressure can be reduced by walking for 30 minutes per day. You can lower your blood pressure even more by exercising.

Salt intake is high in the world. This is largely due the increased consumption processed and prepared foods.

Numerous studies have linked high salt intake to high blood pressure and other heart events, including stroke.5, 6).

Other research suggests that the relationship between high blood pressure and sodium is less clear.7).

This could be due to genetic differences in the way people process sodium. A quarter of people with normal levels of blood pressure and half of those with high blood pressure seem to be sensitive to salt.8).

If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Try seasoning your food with herbs and spices, instead of salt.

Bottom line:Most guidelines for lowering bloodpressure recommend reducing sodium intake. This recommendation may be the best for people who are sensitive or unable to tolerate salt.

Drinking alcohol can increase blood pressure and increase the risk for several chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure.9).

Some research suggests that alcohol consumption in low or moderate amounts may be beneficial for the heart. However, adverse effects may negate these benefits.10).

The United States defines moderate alcohol intake as one drink per female and two drinks per male per day. It might be a good idea to reduce the amount you consume if you drink more than that.11).

Bottom line:Consuming alcohol in excess can cause high blood pressure. Therefore, it’s best to moderate your intake.

Potassium is an essential mineral that helps your body get rid sodium and reduces pressure on your blood vessels.12).

Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake (13).

Focus on eating less processed foods and more fresh, whole foods to achieve a better ratio of potassium and sodium in your diet.

High potassium foods include ().14):

  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens and tomatoes, as well as potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits such as melons, bananas and avocados, oranges and apricots
  • Dairy products, such as milk or yogurt
  • Salmon and tuna
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans

Bottom line:Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee before you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost.

However, there’s not much evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase (15).

Caffeinated tea and coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing heart disease.16).

Still, if you suspect you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, consider cutting back to see if it lowers your blood pressure.

Bottom line:Caffeine can cause short-term blood pressure spikes. It does not cause a long-term increase in blood pressure for many people.

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Soothing music can be a great way to reduce stress. Image credit: Brooke Schaal Photography/Getty Images

High blood pressure is caused by stress.

When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. This can lead to a faster heartbeat and narrower blood vessels.17).

Stress can make it more likely that you engage in other unhealthy behaviors like drinking alcohol or eating processed food.17).

Numerous studies have shown that reducing stress can lower blood pressure. Here are two proven tips:

  • You can listen to soothing musicCalming music can help you relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies (18, 19).
  • Work less:High blood pressure can be linked to stressful work environments and excessive working hours.20).

Bottom line:High blood pressure can be caused from chronic stress. It is possible to reduce stress by finding ways to manage it.

While eating massive amounts of dark chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.

That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate.

A review of studies revealed that cocoa flavonoids-rich may help lower blood pressure in healthy adults.21).

Non-alkalized cocoa powder is best for the strongest effects. It is particularly rich in flavonoids, and contains no added sugars.

Bottom line:Plant compounds in dark chocolate and cocoa powder help lower blood pressure.

People who are overweight can see a significant improvement in their heart health.

A 2016 study found that losing 5% of your bodyweight could significantly lower your blood pressure.22).

This effect is even more pronounced when weight loss is combined with exercise23).

Losing weight can help blood vessels expand and contract better, which makes it easier for the left ventricle to pump blood.24).

Bottom line:Weight loss can help lower blood pressure. This effect is even stronger when you exercise.

One of the reasons to quit smoking is because it is a strong risk factor in heart disease.

Every puff of cigarette smoking causes a slight, but temporary, increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco can also cause damage to blood vessels.

However, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. People who smoke often develop a tolerance over the years.25).

Smoking and high blood pressure increase the risk for heart disease. It is possible to quit smoking.26).

Bottom line: Though there’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, both increase the risk of heart disease.

There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar intake and high blood pressure (27).

One study showed that sugar-sweetened drinks were associated with higher blood pressure in adolescents and children.28).

And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour, convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and could cause problems.

Low carb diets have been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies.

A review of 12 studies found that a low-carb diet can reduce systolic or diastolic blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.29).

Bottom line:Sugar and refined carbs can raise blood pressure. Studies have shown that low-carb diets can help lower blood pressure.

Berries have more to offer than just juicy flavor.

They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart.

Polyphenols are known to reduce stroke risk, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as improving blood pressure, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and blood pressure.30).

One study found that people with high blood pressure were either given a low or high-polyphenol diet, which included berries, chocolate, fruits and vegetables.31).

Consuming berries and other polyphenol-rich foods led to a reduction in heart disease risk markers.

Bottom line:Polyphenols are a rich source of berries, which can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease.

While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.

Meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nerve system. This system is activated when your body relaxes, which slows down your heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure (32).

Deep breathing techniques are also very effective.

One study showed that people who used diaphragmatic breath, a deep breathing technique for deep breathing, twice daily for four weeks had a decrease in their systolic or diastolic blood pressure.33).

Deep breathing or guided meditation are two options. Here’s a videoTo get you started.

Bottom line:Deep breathing and meditation can activate the parasympathetic nerve system. This helps lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate.

Low calcium intake is often associated with high blood pressure.

While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem to be linked to healthful levels (34).

The daily recommended calcium intake for adults is 1,000 mg (mg). Some people, such as older adults, may need higher amounts of calcium.35).

Other than dairy, you can also get calcium through collard greens and other leafy vegetables, beans, sardines and tofu. Here is a list with calcium-rich plant-based foods.

Bottom line:Healthy blood pressure can be linked to calcium-rich diets. Calcium can be obtained by eating dark leafy greens, tofu, and dairy.

Natural supplements may also be helpful in lowering blood pressure. Here are some of these supplements that have been proven effective:

  • Extract of aged garlic:Researchers have successfully used aged-garlic extract to treat high blood pressure as a stand-alone or combined treatment.36).
  • Berberine:While more research is needed on this topic, some studies have suggested that berberine may help lower blood pressure.37).
  • Whey protein:A 2016 study concluded that whey protein had an effect on blood pressure and blood vessel function.38).
  • Fish oilFish oil has long been credited with improving hearthealth.39).
  • Hibiscus:Hibiscus flowers make a delicious tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure (40).

Find out more about supplements for high bloodpressure here.

Bottom lineResearchers have looked into the effectiveness of natural supplements to lower blood pressure.

Magnesium is a vital mineral that helps blood vessels relax.

While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet.

Although some studies have suggested that magnesium deficiency may be linked to high blood pressure (although evidence from clinical studies is less clear),41, 42).

Still, you can ensure that you’re meeting your needs by enjoying a variety of magnesium-rich foods, including vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat, and whole grains (43).

Bottom line:Magnesium, an essential mineral, helps to regulate blood pressure. Magnesium can be found in many whole foods, including legumes as well as whole grains.

High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population.

The only way to treat the condition is with drugs. However, there are many natural ways to help such as eating certain foods.

Learn more about foods that lower blood pressure.

The methods described in this article can help you control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing heart diseases.

Buy over-the-counter remedies

You can order any of the listed over-the-counter remedies online.

This article can be viewed in Spanish.

Source: Medical News Today

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