High blood pressure is an incredibly common health condition in the United States, impacting about one in three Americans, or a total of 68 million people.1
Another 30 percent of Americans have prehypertension, which means their blood pressure is higher than normal and at risk of becoming even higher…
Often presenting with no symptoms, high blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer, because it’s typically only detected after taking a blood pressure reading.
Adding to these already concerning facts, less than half of those with high blood pressure have the condition under control, putting them at risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the country.
There are, fortunately, many strategies you can use to help manage your blood pressure naturally. Whether you have high blood pressure or prehypertension, and whether you’re taking drugs to help keep it under control or not, these tips can help to keep your blood pressure in a safe, healthy range.
How to Manage Your Blood Pressure Naturally – 10 Top Tips
1. Lose Weight
Even a modest weight reduction, such as losing five to 10 pounds, can help you to lower your blood pressure. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 50 percent of overweight people with high blood pressure may have the condition because they’re overweight. When a healthy body weight was reached among these people, their blood pressure also returned to normal.2 So losing weight, if you’re overweight or obese, is one of the first steps you should take to get your blood pressure under control.
2. Regular Exercise
A stronger heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body, which means your blood pressure will naturally decrease. Exercise, one of the key ways to build a stronger heart, has, in fact, been shown to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 4-9 mm Hg, which is comparable to the effects of some blood pressure medications.3
Recent research also revealed that those who maintained a moderate to high fitness level were 34 percent less likely to develop hypertension, even if they had a family history of the condition.4
How much exercise do you need? Aim for moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.
3. Eat Lots of Green Veggies
Green veggies such as spinach are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral that promotes normal blood pressure5, among other healthy effects. Other magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, black beans, sunflower seeds, green beans, cashews and almonds.
4. Meditation and Other Stress-Reduction Techniques
Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise repeatedly, and it’s thought that this may eventually lead to high blood pressure.6 Taking steps to keep your stress levels to a minimum is therefore important, and one such strategy is meditation. Among college students at risk of developing hypertension, engaging in transcendental meditation not only decreased psychological distress and increased coping ability, but it also was associated with decreases in blood pressure.7
5. Add Some Spice to Your Meals
Capsaicin, the natural substance that gives chili peppers their heat, has been found to help lower blood pressure in animal studies.8 Although these findings have yet to be replicated in humans, if you enjoy spice adding some chili peppers to your meals may help support healthy blood pressure.
6. Eat Three Kiwis a Day
Kiwis are rich in antioxidants, which may help to fight free radicals that have been associated with higher blood pressure. Indeed, research shows that eating three kiwis a day for eight weeks lowered blood pressure among people with slightly high levels.9
7. Control Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol is associated with increases in blood pressure. If you drink, you should limit your intake to no more than one drink a day for women and two a day for men (one drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor).
8. Eat More Berries
Berries like blueberries and strawberries are rich in plant compounds known as flavonoids, and particularly anthocyanins, which are known to have beneficial effects on blood pressure. Research shows that people with the highest anthocyanin intake, primarily from eating blueberries and strawberries, had an 8 percent reduction in their risk of high blood pressure, compared with those who ate the least.10
9. Adopt a Pet
Adding a furry friend to your home is not only a wonderful way to help reduce anxiety and stress, it’s also known to help lower blood pressure.
10. Add Potassium-Rich Foods to Your Diet
Because potassium lessens the effects of sodium, it’s an important part of controlling blood pressure. Increasing potassium intake is also known to help lower blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, spinach, mushrooms, bananas, raisins and tomatoes.
While often the exact causes of high blood pressure aren’t known, the lifestyle changes noted above may help keep your levels under control, or prevent you from ever developing the condition. And remember, because high blood pressure often has no symptoms, it’s a good idea to get your levels checked regularly.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, High Blood Pressure Facts
2. Study presented at the American Heart Association’s 61st Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, October 2007
3. Mayo Clinic, Exercise: A Drug-Free Approach to Lowering High Blood Pressure
4. Hypertension May 14, 2012
5. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Magnesium
6. WMJ. 1998 Dec;97(11):34-8.
7. Am J Hypertens. 2009 Dec;22(12):1326-31.
8. Cell Metabolism August 4, 2010, Volume 12, Issue 2, Pages 130-141
9. Study presented at the 2011 American Heart Association Scientific Meeting
10. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):338-47.