Is your blood pressure too high? The American Heart Association (AHA) recently updated its guidelines that define high blood pressure for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of it in 2017. The most prominent update is that prehypertension is now a thing of the past. Blood pressure that is 130/80 is considered high blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80. If your blood pressure is elevated, you’ll have a 120 to 129 systolic, which is how much pressure your blood exerts upon your artery walls with every heartbeat, and less than 80 diastolic, the measure of pressure your blood exerts on your artery walls between heartbeats. Elevated blood pressure is cause for concern and immediate action to keep it from going into the high range.
Why Managing Blood Pressure is Critical
There’s a tendency for people to blow off a high blood pressure reading. That’s because there are many misconceptions about what it means. It is a big deal though, one that can lead to heart disease and stroke. People also think that if one number in their blood pressure reading is normal, that everything is fine, but that’s a dangerous idea to hold onto.
The fact is, the older you get, the more in tune with your blood pressure you should be. Even if you’re active and eat relatively well, keeping an eye on your blood pressure should be a priority to stay healthy and live a longer life. There are certain risk factors you should know about as well to help guard your heart health.
You’re at a much higher risk for high blood pressure if:
- You’re getting older – In the middle of your 40s, your blood pressure naturally begins to climb due to aging as well as stresses that take a toll on your body.
- You’re African-American – Unfortunately, research has shown that African-American people are more prone to developing high blood pressure than any other race.
- It runs in your family – If Grandpa died of a heart attack as a result of high blood pressure, it is imperative you manage yours or you may succumb to the same fate.
- You’re chronically stressed out – Prolonged release of your stress hormones can send blood pressure sky-rocketing out of control.
- You have other diseases – Certain health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease all have an increased risk for hypertension.
If you’ve recently had your blood pressure checked and you’ve found it’s too high, there are ways to treat it to get it back to normal. Medications are often an option, however, they are not necessary for everyone, plus they can be expensive. Medications also have side effects that make them more troublesome for certain people. Plus, if you’re on medication for another condition, taking medication to regulate your blood pressure might be impossible.
Natural Treatment for High Blood Pressure
More and more people are turning to natural treatments for reducing high blood pressure. As our nutrition is a big factor in our overall health, many people look for foods that lower blood pressure. People also make lifestyle changes along with it, though diet is one of the biggest and most effective changes you can make to bring those numbers back down to normal.
What Foods Lower Blood Pressure?
Want to lower your blood pressure? Eat these foods that help lower blood pressure every day as you keep an eye on your numbers. You should also incorporate other healthy practices for lowering blood pressure, which we’ll detail below.
Bananas are full of potassium. Plus they taste sweet all on their own. You can grab one to take as a healthy mid-morning snack that will help keep you balanced, or you can trick yourself into thinking you’re having a treat by freezing slices of banana and then blending it in your blender which creates the texture of ice cream.
Berries were elevated to superfood status years ago when it was discovered that they were rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids. Blueberries have the most, though other berries are also good for your health. Make a breakfast smoothie with berries, throw them onto your morning oatmeal, or simply enjoy them as a light and fresh easy healthy snacks.
3. Leafy greens
Leafy greens are another rich source of potassium, known for helping your kidneys expel more sodium out of your body. Eating more foods that help lower blood pressure like these leafy greens is a great way to get your blood pressure to that healthy range. You don’t need to get sick of salads, but do try to mix it up with kale, romaine lettuce, arugula, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and beet greens. Whatever you do, stay away from canned vegetables. They have added sodium which will only add to your heart health woes. You can choose frozen vegetables without worry though. They have all the same nutrients as fresh vegetables. Make sure you’re buying them plain though without sauces. You’re better off making your own sauces where you can control the sodium.
4. Red beets
It’s easy to see why people are getting back to their roots when it comes to beets. They help open up your blood vessels because they’re high in nitric oxide. Roast them and slice them onto salads, or bake them into healthy chips for a satisfying crunch.
5. Low fat dairy
Skim milk and yogurt are excellent foods that help lower blood pressure. They are rich in calcium while being low in fat. One concern with yogurt though is to be sure you read your labels carefully. Added sugar is often snuck in, especially with the fruit-flavored varieties. Choose brands that have lower sugar quantities per serving.
Oatmeal has always been a heart-healthy option. It’s high in fiber, low in fat, and very low in sodium. This is all good news for your blood pressure. Eat this food that lowers blood pressure every morning for breakfast and you’ll be taking great steps to get your heart in good health.
7. Fatty fish
Fresh fish gives you great lean protein that can power you through your day. When you choose fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and mackerel, you’re helping to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation throughout your body.
Seeds make for a great snack. Plus, they have potassium as well as magnesium, something most people are deficient in. Seeds are a type of food that lowers blood pressure. Snack wisely though as you want to choose seeds that are unsalted.
9. Garlic, herbs, and spices
Stop adding salt to the foods you cook to give it flavor. Instead, use more fresh garlic, herbs, and spices. They all add big taste and more nutrients while helping reduce your blood pressure. Garlic in particular also has lots of nitric oxide like beets that helps widen your arteries.
Not only are pistachios a tasty snack, but they’re also a food that lowers blood pressure. You can even grind them up and use them as a coating for your fresh fatty fish to get double the benefits.
11. Olive oil
Healthy fats are good for your heart. They contain polyphenols that help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Cooking with olive oil is a great way to get these healthy fats. Make sure you measure it out though as it contains 120 calories per tablespoon.
If pomegranates are tiresome to you, simply choose the juice in unsweetened form. Drinking it every day will lower your blood pressure. If you don’t mind doing the work to get the benefits, eat a pomegranate every day for better overall health.
13. Dark chocolate
You can have something sweet and lower your blood pressure too. Dark chocolate is a food that lowers blood pressure. Make sure that it’s pure and you can feel free to indulge daily in moderation.
Lifestyle Changes to Make for Lower Blood Pressure
As mentioned, while foods that lower blood pressure are one of the best ways to get back to a normal level, you’ll need to also incorporate healthier lifestyle habits. Here are some other ways to make that happen besides eating foods that lower blood pressure.
1. Lose weight
When weight increases, so too does blood pressure. If you’re overweight, one of the best reasons to lose weight is to do so to lower your blood pressure. If not, you’re shortening your life significantly. Even if only your midsection is wider, it’s all the more reason to pay attention. Added weight around the waist elevates your chances for having high blood pressure.
2. Get regular exercise
If you’re not exercising every single day, you run the risk of having high blood pressure. That’s not to say you need to get out there and run a marathon every day, but you should at the very least devote 30 minutes per day to walking. Keep it up because if you suddenly stop, your blood pressure will go up once again. You can try any activity that you enjoy from biking to swimming to dancing so you can keep moving.
3. Say “no” to sodium
When we discussed foods that lower blood pressure, we mentioned using garlic and herbs instead of salt. However, you’ll also need to be sure that anything you eat doesn’t have added sodium. Read the labels of the foods you buy and opt for fewer processed foods. Beans are a great choice but the canned variety is so sodium-loaded it takes away from the benefits. Instead, buy the bagged beans and take the time to soak them and season them your way.
4. Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol does have benefits for the body, particularly red wine, but only in moderation. If you cross that line into excess, it can raise your blood pressure. One drink per day for women or two per day for men is considered moderate drinking.
5. Stop smoking
Cigarettes have no redeeming qualities for your health, even in moderation. They increase your blood pressure too. Quit now and you’ll reduce your chances for heart disease. Plus, you’ll feel better and smell better too.
6. Reduce stress
Stress will do you no favors. It’s time to let it go. Whatever is causing you stress, try taking positive steps to battles it. Prioritize at work to keep it from stressing you out.
Focus only on what you can control and make changes there. Take time to relax and unwind even if you are busy. You’ll find you’re a better worker, parent, lover, and friend when you nurture your needs.
Many people find meditation as a wonderful way to help them reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Because it helps control your mind and body, it brings about harmony which can in turn add to the other blood pressure lowering tactics you’re trying out.
8. Get more sleep
With proper sleep, your body does a lot to heal itself. If you’re not sleeping well, it can affect your blood pressure negatively. Look at your daily habits and make time for good, deep sleep.
Take Care of Yourself
High blood pressure is only the end of the world if you don’t do something about it. Take care of your health by eating foods that help lower blood pressure, exercising, reducing stress, ending bad habits, and getting good sleep are just what you need to bring back balance in your life.
Make sure you don’t skip those checkups with your doctor either. You’ll want to closely monitor your blood pressure so you can stay ahead of your health. By taking care of yourself, you’ll get the chance to see and do all the things you’ve dreamed of in your lifetime instead of cutting things off short.