High blood pressure is a common medical condition. Depending on the level of your blood pressure, you may need to take medication to get it under control. Once high blood pressure (HBP) is under control with medication, you can try using lifestyle techniques to lower your blood pressure and reduce your need for the medication. Using techniques like changes to your diet and lifestyle in combination with medication will help you manage your condition and stay healthy.
EditReducing Your Salt Intake
- Don’t add excess salt to your foods. Avoid adding more than a pinch of salt to your food when you cook it and don’t add salt once you are getting ready to eat. You need a small amount of salt in your diet, but you will get more than enough through the prepared foods that you eat and the small amounts you add to your food.
- Adding excess salt will only cause you to retain excess fluids, which causes high blood pressure.
- Keep in mind that seas salt and kosher salt have the same amount of sodium as regular table salt.
- Salt makes your body retain fluid, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
- Avoid eating processed foods. Processed foods are typically loaded with salt and other additives, such as the preservative sodium benzoate. Remember, it’s not just the salt that you put on your food while cooking or at the table, it’s also the amount of sodium that’s in the prepared foods that you buy.
- Sodium causes your body to retain water, which can increase your blood pressure. It is usually listed on the nutritional breakdown on the label of prepared foods.
- Read labels and buy low-salt, low-sodium, or unsalted foods.
- Foods that commonly have a ton of salt in them are prepared, canned, and bottled foods. These include meats, pickles, olives, soups, chili, bacon, ham, sausage, bakery products, and meats with added water, which will have a higher sodium content. Also, avoid prepared condiments, such as prepared mustard, salsa, chile sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and other sauces.
- Track your sodium levels. Many American diets include up to 5000 milligrams (5g) of sodium daily, which nearly all medical professionals consider extremely unhealthy. While you usually can’t, and don’t want to, cut out all sodium, it’s important to try to get to below 2 g (2000 mg) per day. To do this, track your total daily intake of salt/sodium, and make sure you are avoiding as much sodium as you can.
- To track how much sodium you have eaten it’s a good idea to keep a food journal or use a tracking app. There are a variety of fitness and health apps that will allow you to track your sodium intake throughout the day.
- A low-sodium diet usually consists of eating between 0 mg and 1400 mg of salt a day. A moderate sodium diet will have between 1400 mg and 4000 mg a day. A high-sodium diet is anything over 4000 mg per day.
- Keep in mind that sea salt and kosher salt contain the same amount of sodium as table salt. Salt substitutes contain potassium chloride, which is not safe for some people, so you may want to avoid it. Instead, look into sodium-free alternatives to replace salt in your diet, such as lemon juice, flavored vinegar, fresh herbs, and salt-free herb and spice blends.
- Note that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of sodium is about 2500 mg.
EditChanging Your Diet
- Eat a moderate, lean diet. When trying to lower your blood pressure, it’s important to focus on moderation and eating a balanced diet. Try eating a plant-based diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and few meats, milk products, and eggs.
- Try to have at least 1 meal each day that doesn’t include meat and mainly consists of fruits and vegetables. For example, you could have a salad for lunch that consists of several cups of leafy greens and is covered in a variety raw vegetables and seeds, such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, and sunflower seeds.
- When you do eat meat and fish, make sure it is a lean type, such as chicken or salmon without the skin. When you eat or drink dairy products, make sure you are picking low-fat options.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat. This means you should avoid candy bars, processed carbs, and red meats. These foods may be delicious but they provide little nutritional value, and you can get what value they have from healthier choices.
- Instead of eating red meat, eat healthier meats like chicken or fish.
- If you have a craving for sugar, eat a piece of fruit instead of a piece of candy.
- Increase your fiber intake. Fiber won’t lower your blood pressure on its own, but it helps to regulate your digestion and keep you healthy in general. Most vegetables are high in fiber, especially those with leafy greens. Many fruits, nuts, and legumes (beans and peas) are also rich in fiber, as are whole-grain products.
- Some of the best foods you can eat to increase your fiber include pears, strawberries, avocados, apples, carrots, beets, broccoli, lentils, and kidney beans.
- It is recommended that you eat 8 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day, so vary the foods you eat when adding fiber to your diet.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), and restoring some balance here may naturally reduce your blood pressure. Consume fish twice a week or more, as they will provide you with omega-3 fatty acids, lower fats called triglycerides, and promote overall heart health.
- Fish is high in protein, and many types of fish, including salmon, mackerel, and herring, also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids are highest in the oils of the fish, so if you eat canned fish, don’t discard the oil. Eat it along with the fish!
- It is recommended that you eat only one or two servings of lean meat, including fish, each day.
- You can also take fish oil tablets regularly to get more omega-3 fatty acids. However, do research on the fish oil tablet product you take. There are some concerns about raised levels of mercury from certain processed fish products.
- Increase your intake of dietary potassium. Too much potassium can be harmful, but some is necessary. Aim for 3500 and 4700 mg of potassium a day. You may need more potassium if you are active, and less if you are elderly or sick. Some foods that are naturally high in potassium include:
- Tomatoes/tomato juice
- Fresh and dried fruits
- Talk to your doctor about adding supplements to your diet. Check with your doctor to see whether a natural remedy may help lower your blood pressure. Many natural remedies have scientific evidence to show that they can lower high blood pressure, but you should never attempt to replace your blood pressure medication without talking with your doctor.
- The top supplements may assist in lowering blood pressure are coenzyme Q10, omega-3, fish oil, garlic, curcumin (from turmeric), ginger, cayenne, olive oil, nuts, black cohosh, hawthorn, magnesium and chromium. Ask your doctor if these are safe for you to take.
- Vitamins like B12, B6 and B9 can help lower homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine levels can lead to heart problems.
- Stop smoking. Stimulants in cigarette smoke, like nicotine, can increase blood pressure. If you stop smoking, you may be able to lower your blood pressure, help your heart to become healthier, and reduce your chances of getting other diseases, including lung cancer.
- If you are having a hard time quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about how they can help you. They may be able to prescribe you medication that will help you quit and steer you towards programs that will help as well.
- Use less caffeine. Stopping drinking coffee, soda pop, and other caffeinated beverages will lower your blood pressure. Even 1 or 2 cups of coffee can raise blood pressure to an unhealthy level, so it’s best to cut it out completely.
- If a person already has hypertension, caffeine complicates the problem further because it is a nervous system stimulant. Thus, agitated nerves cause the heart to beat faster, which raises the blood pressure.
- If you are a person who drinks a lot of caffeine (more than 4 caffeinated drinks a day), you may need to taper yourself off caffeine to prevent withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches.
- Lose weight. Carrying around extra weight causes your heart to work harder all the time and this increases your blood pressure. By losing this extra weight, through changes to your diet and exercising more often, your heart won’t have to beat as hard and you’ll lower your blood pressure.
- Avoid recreational use of drugs and alcohol. Excessive use of drugs and alcohol can damage many organs in the body, including the liver and the kidneys. This may contribute to high blood pressure.
- Many drugs are stimulants. These cause the heart to beat faster and the blood pressure to go up. By cutting out drugs and alcohol, you’ll succeed in reducing your blood pressure.
- Monitor your blood pressure and talk with your doctor. A medical professional can check your blood pressure by using a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, or you can check it yourself using an automatic blood pressure monitoring device. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, talk to your doctor to determine what treatment options may work best for you. Blood pressure is usually divided into categories, which include:
- Normal blood pressure: below 120/80
- Pre-hypertension blood pressure: 120-139/80-89
- First stage hypertension: 140-159/90-99
- Second stage hypertension: 160/100 and above
EditFocusing on Relaxation
- Reduce chronic stress. Minimize daily stressors, if possible, such as being involved with high stakes business dealings. If you are under chronic stress where you produce that stress hormone every day, then your cardiovascular system will naturally go into a state where it is overworking.
- This overworking happens because the stress hormone increases your pulse, respiration, and heart rate. Your body thinks you need to either fight or run and is naturally getting your body ready do one of those things.
- Many people have a temporary rise in blood pressure when under stress. If you have high blood pressure because you are overweight or have a family history of hypertension, then stress raises it that much more. This is because your adrenal gland releases stress hormones which tend to cause your cardiovascular system to overwork.
- Take a relaxing bath or shower to reduce your blood pressure. Taking a soaking hot bath or hot shower for 15 minutes can actually suppress your blood pressure for several hours. Taking a hot bath just prior to bedtime can help the body retain lower blood pressure for hours or even the entire night.
- Meditate to calm yourself and reduce your blood pressure. Take time every day to calm yourself, as this can reduce your overall stress. Simply observing and slowing the respiration rate produces a significant reduction in blood pressure.
- Take a walk or do some other type of exercise every day. Walk every day for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a moderate speed of about . Study after study has demonstrated that the mere act of walking has a suppression effect on hypertension.
- Can’t walk outside? Use a treadmill inside. The advantage is that you can walk even as it rains or snows outside. You can even walk in your pajamas without the neighbors seeing you!
- Taking a long walk will take the edge off a stressful day long before bedtime. Make time for decompressing each and every day.
- If your blood pressure stays at or above 140 mmHg over 90 mmHg (140/90) while watching your pressure and using these tips, you should see your doctor.
- The consequences of untreated or unchecked hypertension include increased risks of heart muscle thickening and hardening, diabetes, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.
- Buy a Blood Pressure Cuff
- Eat to Lower Blood Pressure
- Check Your Blood Pressure with a Sphygmomanometer
- Lower Your Cholesterol
- Control High Blood Pressure
EditSources and Citations
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