High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition that affects millions of people. It is often called the “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms until it causes serious health problems.
If you are one of the millions of people who struggle with high blood pressure, don’t worry – there are many things you can do to lower your blood pressure and improve your health! In this article, we will discuss some simple tips that will help you lower your blood pressure and live a healthier life.
#1 – Focus on Heart-healthy Foods
One of the best things you can do for your health is to focus on eating heart-healthy foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. These foods are not only good for your heart, but they can also help lower your blood pressure.
So, what are some specific foods that you should be eating?
Fruits and vegetables are always a good choice, but there are some that are especially beneficial for lowering blood pressure. These include: dark leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, and bananas.
Whole grains are another great option. Look for items like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice.
As for lean protein, you can’t go wrong with fish. Salmon, tuna, and mackerel are all excellent choices. If you don’t like fish, chicken and turkey are also good options.
And last but not least, healthy fats. These include avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
#2 – Limit Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated and trans fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels, which can contribute to heart disease. To limit these types of fats, avoid fried foods, processed meats, and full-fat dairy products. You should also limit the amount of saturated fat you consume to no more than
13 grams per day. Trans fat should make up no more than of your daily fat intake.
If you’re not sure how much saturated and trans fat you’re consuming, check the nutrition facts label on food packages. The label will list the amount of saturated and trans fat in grams per serving. It will also give you the % Daily Value (DV) for saturated and trans fat. The DV for saturated fat is less than 20 grams per day, while the DV for trans fat is less than 20 grams per day.
#3 – Reduce Sodium in Your Diet
Another way to help lower your blood pressure is to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. If you have high blood pressure, you should aim for 1500 mg of sodium or less per day. To help reduce your sodium intake, avoid processed foods and limit your use of salt when cooking.
You can also check the nutrition labels on food to see how much sodium is in each serving. The label will list the amount of sodium in grams per serving. It will also give you the % Daily Value (DV) for sodium. The DV for sodium is less than 2400 mg per day.
#4 – Eat More Potassium
Potassium is a mineral that helps to lower blood pressure. It works by counteracting the effects of sodium in your body. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume at least 4700 mg of potassium per day. Good sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
You can also get potassium from supplements, but it’s best to get it from food. This is because potassium in food is accompanied by other nutrients that have blood pressure-lowering effects, such as magnesium and fiber.
Some good sources of potassium include:
- Kidney beans
#5 – Lay off the Caffeine
Caffeine can cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure, even if you don’t have high blood pressure. It’s long been thought that caffeine is a contributing factor to hypertension. A recent study of 500 people showed that those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day had higher blood pressures than those who didn’t.
While the effects of caffeine on blood pressure are usually temporary and reversible, it’s best to avoid caffeine if you already have high blood pressure. If you can’t give up your coffee or other caffeinated drinks, be sure to limit yourself to no more than two cups a day.
You should also avoid caffeine late in the day so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
#6 – Cut Back on Alcohol
It’s no secret that alcohol can be bad for your health. But did you know that it can also raise your blood pressure? Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it helps your body get rid of excess fluid. When you drink alcohol, your body gets rid of more water than usual, and this can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration can cause your blood vessels to constrict, which raises your blood pressure. So if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, it’s best to cut back on alcohol or avoid it altogether.
#7 – Ditch Sugar
Sugar is another culprit when it comes to high blood pressure. Sugar can cause your body to retain fluid, which can lead to dehydration and increased blood pressure.
Cutting back on sugar is a great way to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
#8 – Switch to Dark Chocolate
If you just can’t give up chocolate, switch to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate and can actually help lower blood pressure.
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help keep your blood vessels healthy and improve blood flow.
So if you’re looking for a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth, reach for dark chocolate.
#9 – Try the DASH Eating Plan
The DASH eating plan is an eating plan that has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating plan includes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and less saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol.
The DASH eating plan also includes eating less salt.
If you’re interested in trying the DASH eating plan, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist. They can help you create a DASH eating plan that’s right for you.
#10 – Be Sure to Check Labels
When you’re grocery shopping, be sure to check the labels on food packages.
You want to look for foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol and that have little or no added sugars.
You also want to look for foods that are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber.
Potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help lower blood pressure. Fiber can also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
When you’re reading food labels, remember to:
- Check the serving size first. The amount of calories and nutrients in a serving may be different than what’s listed on the package.
- Compare the sodium content of foods. Look for foods that are low in sodium.
- Limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol you eat. These fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels.
- Choose foods that are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber. These nutrients can help lower blood pressure.
#11 – Lose Weight
If you’re overweight, losing just a few pounds can help lower your blood pressure. Ask your doctor about a safe weight-loss program that includes healthy eating and regular exercise. If you need to lose weight, aim to do so slowly by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Losing weight too quickly can actually increase blood pressure.
Excess weight, especially around the waist, can trigger high blood pressure. If your waist is larger than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, you’re at increased risk. Even losing a small amount of weight — and keeping it off — can lower your blood pressure.
#12 – Regular Exercise
Regular exercise also helps lower blood pressure by making your heart stronger. An effective exercise routine for lowering blood pressure should include aerobic activity — such as brisk walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming — for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. You also can do strength training to build up your muscles on two or three nonconsecutive days each week. Exercise is especially important if you have high blood pressure and need to lose weight.
If you have high blood pressure, physical activity is an important part of your treatment. Physical activity helps you control your weight, reduces stress and can lower your blood pressure by as much as four to nine millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) — even if you don’t lose weight.
#13 – Reduce Stress
Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise, both in the short term and over time. If you have high blood pressure, managing stress is important. There are many ways to reduce stress, such as:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Tai chi
- Guided imagery
Start with just a few minutes of relaxation a day and work up to longer periods of time as you’re able. You also can try stress-reduction techniques such as aromatherapy, massage or listening to calming music. If self-help measures don’t relieve your stress, consider counseling or therapy.
#15 – Stop Smoking
Smoking and using tobacco are among the leading causes of preventable death. Tobacco use increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and many other cancers. It also can contribute to erectile dysfunction. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you.
If you’re having trouble quitting, get help. Talk to your doctor about medications and other ways to help you quit smoking.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. And if you have family or friends who smoke, help them quit. You can offer support and encouragement, and share what worked for you when you quit smoking.
#16 – Try Supplements
Some supplements may help to lower blood pressure, but more research is needed. These include:
- Coenzyme Q-Ten
- Omega-three fatty acids
Speak with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you take medication for another health condition. Some supplements can interact with medication and cause serious side effects.
Coenzyme Q-Ten, garlic, hawthorn, magnesium, and omega-three fatty acids are all supplements that have shown some promise in lowering blood pressure. However, more research is needed to confirm their efficacy. If you’re interested in trying any of these supplements, be sure to speak with your doctor first, as some can interact with medication and cause serious side effects.
#17 – Use Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. They help to keep your digestive system healthy and can also improve your immune system. Probiotics have also been shown to lower blood pressure. You can find probiotics in yogurt, fermented foods, and supplements.
When buying yogurt, look for brands that say “contains live and active cultures.” These cultures are the probiotics. Make sure to eat yogurt regularly to get the most benefit from it.
You can also take a probiotic supplement. Be sure to look for one that has at least 50 billion CFUs and is from a reputable brand.
#18 – Give Acupuncture a Try
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions.
Recent study found that acupuncture may be effective in treating hypertension. In the study, people who received acupuncture treatments had lower blood pressure than those who did not.
If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, make sure to consult with a licensed practitioner.
#19 – Monitor Blood Pressure at Home
If you have hypertension, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure at home. This will help you keep track of your progress and make sure that your blood pressure is under control.
There are a few different ways to monitor blood pressure at home. You can use a manual or automatic blood pressure cuff. You can also use a digital blood pressure monitor.
If you’re not sure how to use a blood pressure cuff, ask your doctor or nurse for help.
When you monitor your blood pressure at home, be sure to record the date, time, and reading in a logbook. You can also use an app on your smartphone to track your readings.
Make sure to take your blood pressure at the same time each day. This will help you get an accurate reading.
If your blood pressure is high, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options. Treatment for high blood pressure may include lifestyle changes, medication, or both.
#20 – Consider Prescription Medications
If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower it. There are a variety of different medications available.
Some common types of blood pressure medications include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Be sure to take your medication as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor.
While making changes to your lifestyle can seem daunting, it is well worth the effort for a healthier life. Making small changes each day will add up to big results in the long run. Start with one or two of these tips and work your way up as you become more comfortable with them. Soon you will see a noticeable difference in your blood pressure and overall health.