17 Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Cutting down salt is just the beginning. Read on for tips on keeping your circulatory system healthy.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Go for a walk
Just a little exercise can make a difference. An Australian study published in the journal Hypertension found that a 30-minute morning walk may be as effective as medication at lowering blood pressure for the rest of the day. If you’re currently sedentary, try starting with a 10-minute walk (walk five minutes, turn around, and come back) and work your way up to 30 minutes. (Find out what happens to your body when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.)
Load up on potassium
Potassium—sometimes called the “un-salt”—can lower blood pressure, says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, MD, professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation in New Haven, Connecticut. That’s because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.
And yet, fewer than than two per cent of us get the recommended 4.7 grams a day. “Many foods—including avocados, beans, spinach, and raisins—are replete with potassium,” says Dr. Krumholz. In fact, avocados pack in more potassium than any other vegetable or fruit, including bananas. Add some to your sandwich or salad for a nutritional boost.
Brush up on the incredible health benefits of avocado.
Schedule your medication
If you’ve started taking blood pressure-lowering medication but still aren’t seeing reduced numbers, it could be that you’re missing a dose here and there. In a study published in BMC Health Services Research exploring why people with chronic diseases don’t take their prescribed meds, 62 per cent said it was because they forgot.
To get into the habit of taking your meds as prescribed, try one of these tricks: Set a reminder on your cell phone or watch to go off at the same time every day; sync up your med-taking with an activity you do at the same time every day (making the morning coffee or brushing your teeth, for example); or place a reminder note someplace you can’t miss it, like the bathroom mirror or refrigerator.
Find out the medication mistakes that could be making you sick.
Photo: Antonina Vlasova / Shutterstock.com
Eat a well-balanced diet
It’s the single most important lifestyle change you can make if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, says Dr. Krumholz. Aim to eat a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils.
An easy way to satisfy every category on that list? “The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has high-quality evidence to support the value of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods in lowering blood pressure,” says Dr. Krumholz. “The benefit for blood pressure can begin within two weeks.”
Here are 50 heart healthy foods worth adding to your grocery list.
Invest in a home blood pressure kit
The American Heart Association recommends home blood pressure monitoring for everyone with high blood pressure. This helps doctors determine whether treatments are working. (This is not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor, however.) Ask your health-care provider for a brand recommendation, and bring it to the office so your doctor can observe you using it and be sure you’re doing it correctly.
Find out the heart attack symptoms that are most frequently misdiagnosed.
Break up periods of uninterrupted sitting
Research links prolonged sitting with obesity and a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels—that make up metabolic syndrome. One study, published in 2018 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggests that breaking up prolonged sitting with bouts of light physical activity may reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Although experts “are still learning about what kind of patterns of activity or inactivity have consequences for health,” says Dr. Krumholz, “you should punctuate the day with periods of activity.” Every half hour, get up and stretch, walk, or do some other form of light activity. Another trick: Return e-mails, texts, and phone calls standing up.
Learn to spot the signs you need to move more.
Consuming four tablespoons of flaxseed can lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) in postmenopausal women who have a history of heart disease, a small study in the Journal of Nutrition found. The seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which probably explains the effect. Try two tablespoons in your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons over soup or salad later in the day for a tasty crunch.
You might also want to stock up on these foods that naturally lower cholesterol.
A wide body of research, including a Chinese study of more than 4,500 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, shows that tea contributes to decreased blood pressure. For every cup of tea you drink a day, systolic blood pressure could reduce by two points and diastolic pressure by one point, according to an Australian study. More than four cups, though, and the same benefits won’t show.
Check out the powerful health benefits of tea.
Photo: Aleksandra Suzi / Shutterstock.com
…But limit coffee consumption
Coffee isn’t off-limits for people with high blood pressure, but moderation is key, found a large review of studies published in 2017 in Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy. That regular cup of joe may increase blood pressure for up to three hours after you drink it. But if you’re a regular coffee drinker, the effect is diminished.
Learn to spot the signs you’re drinking