To avoid the risks and costs associated with pharmaceutical drugs, many people turn to natural yet still scientifically proven ways to better their health, such as improving blood pressure and blood flow. If you’re looking for natural ways to lower blood pressure, look no further.
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a silent killer. There are often no symptoms, and yet the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system can contribute significantly to stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular health threats. The AHA also states that, as the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Healthy lifestyle choices, which include dietary approaches to stop hypertension, can go a long way toward controlling your blood pressure so that you can live a longer life. Below are some natural ways you can get started down that better path.
The Better Way: How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Here are 14 natural approaches to lowering your blood pressure, including healthy diet and lifestyle tips.
1. Lose Weight
Being overweight or obese can have a terrible impact on your heart health. By losing even 5% of your body mass, you could drastically lower high blood pressure.
One study showed that losing 17 pounds could lower your systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and your diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg. To understand those numbers, compare them to a healthy blood pressure reading less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Pairing weight loss with exercise is even more beneficial, as it helps your blood vessels better expand and contract, which takes undo pressure off your heart.
2. Avoid Refined Carbs and Added Sugars
Simply stopping or replacing poor eating habits can make a very quick change for those who are overweight or obese. The link between high blood pressure and added sugars is well known, and something as realistic and achievable as cutting sodas from your diet can make a substantial difference, as was seen in the Framingham Women’s Health Study, which showed that women who drank less than one soda per day had lower blood pressure than those who drank one or more sodas per day.
Cutting out refined carbs, like those found in white flour which are quickly converted to sugar in your bloodstream, can also help keep blood pressure low. For instance, those on a carb-restricted diet over a period of 6 weeks showed a significant improvement in blood pressure and heart disease markers than those who freely ate carbs.
3. Quit Smoking
If you already don’t smoke: excellent, you’ve done yourself quite the favor. If you do smoke, however, every puff causes an increase in your blood pressure, and damages your blood vessels with the chemicals found in tobacco.
Smoking is one of the stronger risk factors for heart disease, and the risk of heart disease can be quickly reduced along with your blood pressure the moment you quit.
4. Drink Less Alcohol
Since we’re already talking about what you should avoid, drinking less alcohol is a big one. Drinking alcohol raises your blood pressure, and is linked to an estimated 16% of the high blood pressure diagnoses across the globe. While moderate amounts of red wine may have heart-healthy benefits, anything more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men could be doing more damage than good.
5. Reduce Sodium Intake
Another prohibition: salt intake. Due to the high sodium content in processed food, excessive salt intake has become a major issue around the world. Large-scale efforts are being made to improve population health by lowering the salt content produced by the food industry, but you can make those changes yourself by avoiding foods high in sodium.
Salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure and other adverse cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. Reducing sodium intake can rapidly improve those same areas.
6. Eat More Berries
At last, something you can start instead of stop: eating more natural whole foods like berries. Polyphenol-rich foods such as berries and dark chocolate have been shown to improve heart disease risk markers. Whether as a snack, in a smoothie, or as part of a dessert, berries of all sorts can help to lower your blood pressure.
7. Eat Dark Chocolate
Speaking of dark chocolate, the flavonoids contained within it and cocoa powder can cause your blood vessels to dilate. Non-alkalized cocoa powder is especially effective, as it has no added sugars and is particularly high in flavonoids. A review of studies on heart health markers and flavonoid-rich cocoa included one showing that it contributes to lowering blood pressure.
8. Eat More Calcium
Calcium-rich foods do better than even calcium supplements at improving your health, while a low-calcium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. Not just milk or dairy products are necessary to increase calcium either (for those who are lactose intolerant or aiming to keep a vegan diet): calcium can be found in beans, tofu, and dark, leafy greens.
9. Eat More Magnesium
Foods containing magnesium include chicken, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, and vegetables like cabbage, green beans, peas, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. A diet high in magnesium is a recommended way to prevent high blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to relax.
10. Walk/Exercise Regularly
Your heart health can be improved and your blood pressure lowered by getting regular exercise of any sort, and even an act as simple as walking can make a significant difference. The more you exercise, the more good you can do. One study showed that 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking per week can help lower your blood pressure (75 minutes of vigorous exercise like running will bring the same benefit).
11. Eat More Potassium
Foods high in potassium include beans, nuts and seeds, dairy like yogurt or milk, fruit of all kinds, leafy green vegetables, and fish like tuna and salmon. Potassium helps your body get rid of the high amounts of sodium in today’s modern diet, which eases the pressure on your blood vessels and improves your overall health.
12. Consume Less Caffeine
Caffeine elevates blood pressure, so go easy on the coffee. Consider switching from coffee to tea, or from a caffeinated tea to an herbal one, and see if cutting back on caffeine doesn’t have a positive effect on your blood pressure levels.
13. Manage Your Stress
Stress can cause very real physical reactions in the body, from skin breakouts to hair loss, to high blood pressure. It can also increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels.
There are many ways to reduce stress, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a couple of methods that have been scientifically studied and found to help lower blood pressure. First, listen to soothing music to relax your nervous system, and second, work less. We know that’s not always an option for those with high-demand jobs, a family to support, etc., but it should be a goal to reduce your stress. Perhaps you can compartmentalize more effectively, leave your phone off during dinner or while you sleep—even little steps can make a big difference.
14. Take Key Natural Supplements
Supplements boost levels of specific nutrients that will benefit your blood pressure levels. These are a few with scientific evidence for you to consider.
- Fish oil: Fish oil has long been known to help heart health, but fish oil can specifically aid high blood pressure.
- Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers can be made into a tea, and are rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins that help lower arterial hypertension.
- Aged garlic extract: Aged garlic extract has been used to lower high blood pressure successfully in clinical trials.
- Berberine: Used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine traditionally, berberine may decrease blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production.
- Whey protein: A study in 2016 showed that whey protein improved blood vessel function and blood pressure in 38 participants.
Naturally Lowering Blood Pressure
Healthy eating, moderate exercise, and self care: it really is that simple. If your high blood pressure can be managed without drugs, then these are the practices and lifestyle changes you can implement to get real health benefits from the natural treatment of hypertension and high blood pressure.