High blood pressure – also known as “The Silent Killer”- is a leading risk factor for heart disease and early death. A lot of people don’t know they have it, yet hypertension can lead to serious health problems.
Luckily, like many other health problems, high blood pressure can be managed by simple lifestyle changes. If you already have hypertension, even a slight decrease in your blood pressure can help your cardiovascular health and prevent heart attack, stroke, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.
Natural ways to manage high blood pressure.
Simple lifestyle changes can prevent or reverse high blood pressure.
Lose weight. Blood pressure is often higher as weight increases. Being overweight can also disrupt your breathing when you sleep, causing sleep apnea which further raises blood pressure. Keeping a healthy weight will help managing hypertension. Furthermore, carrying extra kilos around the waistline may increase your risk of high blood pressure. To have a clearer idea, men are at risk when their waist measurement is greater than 102cm, and women when it’s greater than 89cm.
Exercise. We will never say it enough. Exercise is often the best solution to many of our health problems. Regular activity, around 30 minutes 5 times a week, can lower your blood pressure. The key here is consistency. As soon as you stop exercising regularly, your blood pressure may rise again.
Quit smoking. You’re already aware that cigarettes are not your friends. Besides killing your lungs, smoking increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish your cigarette. Quitting smoking will help your blood pressure return to normal and reduce your risk of heart disease. Have a read at this article if you’re trying to quit smoking.
Reduce your stress. Chronic stress contributes to hypertension. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and blood pressure. Meditation is also a great way to destress and lower blood pressure. Learn more about stress management here.
Your diet might also be a factor of high blood pressure.
Reduce your sodium intake. Salt is one cause of high blood pressure. Even a small reduction of the salt you consume daily can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure. To lower your salt consumption, you may want to read food labels more closely and choose low-sodium alternatives. Eating less processed food is another way to reduce salt in your diet. Try not to add salt when you cook. Herbs and spices are just as good – if not better- for seasoning. Cut back gradually and your palate will adjust over time.
Go slow on the drinks. Drinking alcohol in moderation can be good for your health. 1 glass a day for women or 2 for men can actually lower your blood pressure. But that will only work until you drink too much of it. Drinking more than the recommended amount will actually raise your blood pressure drastically.
Eat your veggies. A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and low-fat dairy products reduce blood pressure. Try to get more potassium, which is known to lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Foods proven to lower high blood pressure.
Studies have found that many foods are actually great at helping reduce blood pressure. These are:
Leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, turnip greens…) which are high in potassium.
Berries, especially blueberries, contain flavonoids which have been shown to prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure.
Red beets, high in nitric oxide, help open your blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
Oatmeal, high in fiber, and low in fat and sodium.
Bananas, rich in potassium.
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel…) high in omega-3s which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and lower triglycerides.
Seeds, unsalted of course, are high in potassium, magnesium and other minerals that are great against high blood pressure.
Garlic and herbs, which help you cut back on salt.
Dark chocolate, or good quality cocoa, which are linked with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
Pistachios help reduce blood vessel tightening and heart rate.
Olive oil contains polyphenols, which are inflammation-fighting compounds that help reduce blood pressure.
Pomegranates. Raw or as a juice, this fruit is a great way to reduce blood pressure over the short term.
High blood pressure can lead to more serious health problems including stroke, heart failure, heart disease or chronic kidney disease, but some simple lifestyle and diet changes can help you manage or reduce it. Exercising, quitting smoking, reducing sodium in your diet and eating more vegetables are some of them.
We want to hear from you.
Do you have high blood pressure? How do you deal with it? Do you have any other tip that we may have missed?