15 natural ways to lower blood pressure

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High blood pressure is a dangerous condition which can damage your heart. It affects one in every three people in the United States and one billion people worldwide (12).

When left unchecked it increases the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Fifteen remedies

But the news is fine. There are a variety of things you can do to naturally lower your blood pressure, even without any medicine.

Here are 15 natural ways to counter hypertension.

1. Walk and exercise regularly

Couples jogging

Exercising is one of the easiest things to do to minimize high blood pressure.

Regular exercise helps make the heart stronger and more effective at pumping blood, reducing the artery pressure.

Indeed, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of intense exercise, such as running, will help lower blood pressure each week, and boost your heart health (34).

Moreover, doing even more exercise further reduces the blood pressure, the National Walkers’ Health Report (5) reports.

Bottom line: Walking for just 30 minutes a day will help to reduce blood pressure. Further activity helps get it down even further.

2. Reduce your sodium intake

Intake of salt is strong all over the world. It is attributed in large part to the refined and packaged foods.

Despite of this, several public health campaigns seek to minimize salt in the food industry (6).

Salt has been related to high blood pressure and cardiac attacks, such as stroke, in several studies (78).

More recent study, however, suggests that the connection between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear (910).

Genetic variations in how people store sodium may be one explanation for this. About half of people with elevated blood pressure and a quarter of those with normal levels tend to have a salt sensitivity (11).

When you already have high blood pressure, your sodium consumption will be cut down to see if it makes a difference. Swap out freshly packaged foods and try seasoning with herbs and spices rather than salt.

Bottom line: Some blood pressure lowering recommendations suggest reducing the sodium intake. The advice may make the most sense for salt-sensitive people, though.

3. Drink less alcohol

Drinking alcohol has the ability to increase blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is associated with 16 per cent of cases of high blood pressure worldwide (12).

Although some research has indicated that low to moderate levels of alcohol may protect the heart, negative effects can outweigh those benefits (12).

In the US, moderate consumption of alcohol is described as no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. Cut back if you do drink more than that.

Bottom line: Alcohol intake of any amount will raise your blood pressure. For women, restrict your drink to no more than one drink a day, two for men.

4. Eat more potassium-rich foods

Bananas

Potassium is a Important mineral.

This helps the body get rid of sodium and relax blood vessel pressure.

Modern diets have increased the sodium intake of most people, while reducing the intake of potassium (13).

Work on consuming less processed foods and more fresh, natural foods to get a better balance of potassium to sodium into your diet.

Foods which are particularly high in potassium include:

  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots
  • Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans

Bottom Line: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.

5. Cut back on caffeine

If you’ve ever drank a cup of coffee before bringing up your blood pressure, you’ll know caffeine is producing an instant boost.

There isn’t much evidence, however, to indicate that drinking caffeine regularly will cause a lasting increase (14).

In reality, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea appear to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who don’t (15161718).

Caffeine may have a greater impact on people who don’t routinely drink it (19).

When you think you are susceptible to caffeine, cut back and see if the blood pressure drops (20).

Bottom Line: Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, although for many people it does not cause a lasting increase.

6. Learn to manage stress

Stress is a primary cause of hypertension.

Your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode, while you are constantly stressed. This means a higher heart rate and compressed blood vessels on a physical basis.

You will also be more likely to indulge in other habits while you are feeling stress, such as consuming alcohol or eating unhealthy food, which can have a detrimental impact on blood pressure.

Several studies have studied how stress management can help to reduce the blood pressure. Below are two tried-and-tested tips:

  • Listen to soothing music: Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies (2122).
  • Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work situations in general, are linked to high blood pressure (2324).

Bottom Line: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.

7. Eat dark chocolate or cocoa

Here’s just a piece of advice that you can get behind.

Although consuming large quantities of chocolate probably won’t improve your heart, small quantities might be. That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are abundant in flavonoids, plant compounds that induce dilation of blood vessels (25).

A analysis of studies showed that cocoa rich in flavonoids improved many heart safety indicators in the short term, including reducing blood pressure (26).

Using non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially rich in flavonoids and lacks added sugars, for the best effects.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.

8. Lose weight

When you are overweight, weight loss will make a huge difference to your heart health.

Losting 5 percent of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure, according to a 2016 report (27).

In previous research, a loss of 17 pounds (7.7 kg) was associated with a reduction of 8.5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 6.5 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure (28).

To put that in perspective, less than 120/80 mm Hg would be a safe reading.

When weight loss is combined with exercise, the effect is even greater (28).

Weight loss will help the blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the heart’s left ventricle to pump blood.

Bottom Line: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even greater when you exercise.

9. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking today

The habit is a significant risk factor for heart disease among the other reasons to stop smoking.

Each puff of cigarette smoke causes blood pressure to rise slightly, briefly. The tobacco compounds are also responsible for destroying the blood vessels.

Research have surprisingly not found a definitive correlation between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because, over time, smokers build tolerance (29).

Nonetheless, because smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, stopping smoking will help to reduce the risk.

Bottom Line: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.

10. Cut added sugar and refined carbs

There is an growing body of research that indicates a link between added sugar and high blood pressure (303132).

Women who drank only one soda daily had higher rates in the Framingham Women’s Health Survey than those who consumed less than one soda a day (33).

Another research found that a lower blood pressure was correlated with consuming one less sugar-sweetened drink a day (34).

So it’s not just sugar – all processed carbohydrates, like the kind found in white flour, easily turn to sugar in your bloodstream, which can cause trouble.

Several studies have shown that low-carb diets can help lower blood pressure, too.

One analysis of individuals undergoing statin therapy showed that those who went on a six-week, carb-restricted diet had a greater improvement in indicators of blood pressure and other heart disease than those who did not have a diet (35).

Bottom Line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may help reduce your levels.

11. Eat berries

Berries are more than just juicy in flavor.

They are filled with polyphenols, natural compounds of plants that are healthy for your heart too.

One small study had eat berries for eight weeks for middle-aged men.

Participants reported increases in multiple heart safety indicators including blood pressure (36).

Another research allocated low-polyphenol diets to people with elevated blood pressure or a high-polyphenol diet including berries, chocolate, fruits and vegetables (37).

Those who ate berries and foods high in polyphenols reported enhanced risk markers of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.

12. Try meditation or deep breathing

Although these two practices may both come under “techniques of stress management,” meditation and deep breathing deserve special notice.

It is believed that both meditation and deep respiration stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. When the body relaxes, this mechanism becomes activated, increasing the heart rate and reducing blood pressure.

There is quite a bit of research in this field, with studies showing that various meditation styles tend to have advantages in lowering blood pressure (3839).

Deep respiration techniques, too, can be very effective.

Participants were asked in one study to either take six deep breaths over 30 seconds, or simply sit still for 30 seconds. Those taking breaths decreased their blood pressure more than those who were just sitting down (40).

Consider controlled meditation, or breathing deeply. Here’s a video to start you off.

Bottom Line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.

13. Eat calcium-rich foods

Milk in a glass cup

People with low intake of calcium also show high blood pressure.

Although it has not been proven conclusively that calcium supplements reduce blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem to be related to healthier levels (4142).

For most adults the dosage for calcium is 1,000 mg daily. It’s 1200 mg a day for women over 50 and men over 70 (43).

You will also get calcium from collard greens and other leafy greens, rice, sardines and tofu as well as from dairy. Here’s a complete list.

Bottom Line: Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. Get calcium through dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.

14. Take natural supplements

Some herbal supplements can also help to reduce blood pressure. Here are some of the key supplements bearing proof:

  • Aged garlic extract: Aged garlic extract has been used successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure (4445).
  • Berberine: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, berberine may increase nitric oxide production, which helps decrease blood pressure (4647).
  • Whey protein: A 2016 study found that whey protein improved blood pressure and blood vessel function in 38 participants (48).
  • Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure the most (4950).
  • Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure (51).

Bottom Line: Several natural supplements have been investigated for their ability to lower blood pressure.

15. Eat foods rich in magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral which helps to relax the blood vessels.

While magnesium deficiency is relatively rare, many people are not getting enough.

Some studies have shown that having too little magnesium is correlated with high blood pressure but clinical trials have provided less strong evidence (5253).

But eating a diet rich in magnesium is a safe way to avoid high blood pressure (53).

Magnesium can be integrated into your diet using fruits, dairy products, legumes, rice, beef and whole grains

Bottom Line: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole foods, such as legumes and whole grains.

Take Home Message

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

While medications are one way to treat the disease, many other natural therapies may be of benefit.

Ultimately, managing your blood pressure through the methods set out in this article can help you reduce your risk of heart disease.

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