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15 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage
your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1
billion people worldwide (1, 2).

If left uncontrolled, it raises your risk of heart disease and
stroke.

But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do
to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without
medication.

Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.

1. Walk and Exercise Regularly

Couple Running in the City


Exercise
is one of the best things you can do to lower high
blood pressure.

Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more
efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your
arteries.

In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or
75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week can
help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health
(3, 4).

What’s more, doing even more exercise reduces your blood
pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’
Health Study (5).



Bottom Line: Walking just 30 minutes a day
can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps
reduce it even further.

2. Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Salt Shaker on Side

Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is
due to processed and prepared foods.

For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at
lowering salt in the food industry (6).

In many studies, salt
has been linked to high blood pressure and heart events, like
stroke (7, 8).

However, more recent research indicates that the relationship
between sodium and high blood pressure is less clear (9, 10).

One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people
process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure
and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a
sensitivity to salt (11).

If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting
back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap
out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with
herbs
and spices
, rather than salt.

Bottom Line: Most guidelines for lowering
blood pressure recommend lowering sodium intake. However,
that recommendation might make the most sense for people who
are salt-sensitive.

3. Drink Less Alcohol

Drinking alcohol
can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of
high blood pressure cases around the world (12).

While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts
of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset
by negative effects (12).

In the US, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more
than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink
more than that, cut back.

Bottom Line: Drinking alcohol in any
quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking
to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.

4. Eat More Potassium-Rich Foods

Three Bananas

Potassium is an important mineral.

It helps your body get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your
blood vessels.

Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while
decreasing potassium intake (13).

To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet,
focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole
foods.

Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:

  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and
    sweet potatoes
  • Fruit, including melons,
    bananas
    , avocados, oranges and apricots
  • Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans

Bottom Line: Eating fresh fruits and
vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood
pressure.

5. Cut Back on Caffeine

If you’ve ever downed a cup
of coffee
before you’ve had your blood pressure taken,
you’ll know that
caffeine
causes an instant boost.

However, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking
caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase (14).

In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea tend to
have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood
pressure, than those who don’t (15, 16, 17, 18).

Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don’t consume
it regularly (19).

If you suspect you’re caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it
lowers your blood pressure (20).

Bottom Line: Caffeine can cause a short-term
spike in blood pressure, although for many people it does not
cause a lasting increase.

6. Learn to Manage Stress

Young Man Lying on a Couch Listening to Music

Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure.

When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant
fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster
heart rate and constricted blood vessels.

When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to
engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating
unhealthy food, that can negatively affect blood pressure.

Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help
lower blood pressure. Here are two evidence-based tips to try:

  • Listen to soothing music: Calming music can
    help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an
    effective complement to other blood pressure therapies
    (21, 22).
  • Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work
    situations in general, are linked to high blood pressure
    (23, 24).

To find out more ways to lower stress, read
this article
.

Bottom Line: Chronic stress can contribute
to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can
help.

7. Eat Dark Chocolate or Cocoa

Four Pieces of Dark Chocolate

Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind.

While eating massive amounts of chocolate probably won’t help
your heart, small amounts may.

That’s because
dark chocolate
and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids,
plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate (25).

A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved
several markers of heart health over the short term, including
lowering blood pressure (26).

For the strongest effects, use
non-alkalized cocoa powder
, which is especially high in
flavonoids and has no added sugars.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels,
lowering blood pressure.

8. Lose Weight

If you’re overweight,
losing weight
can make a big difference for your heart
health.

According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could
significantly lower high blood pressure (27).

In previous studies, losing 17 pounds (7.7 kg) was linked to
lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic
blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg (28).

To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less
than 120/80 mm Hg.

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The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with
exercise (28).

Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of
expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left
ventricle of the heart to pump blood.

Bottom Line: Losing weight can significantly
lower high blood pressure. This effect is even greater when
you exercise.

9. Quit Smoking

Cigarette Butt

Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a
strong risk factor for heart disease.

Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary
increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also
known to damage blood vessels.

Surprisingly, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between
smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because
smokers develop a tolerance over time (29).

Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the
risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help reverse that
risk.

Bottom Line: There’s conflicting research
about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is
that both increase the risk of heart disease.

10. Cut Added Sugar and Refined Carbs

There’s a growing body of research showing a link between

added sugar
and high blood pressure (30, 31, 32).

In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even
one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less
than one soda per day (33).

Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened
beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure (34).

And it’s not just sugar — all refined
carbs
, such as the kind found in white flour, convert
rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems.

Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may also help
reduce blood pressure.

One study on people undergoing statin therapy found that those
who went on a six-week, carb-restricted diet saw a greater
improvement in blood pressure and other heart disease markers
than people not on a diet (35).

Bottom Line: Refined carbs, especially
sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that
low-carb diets may help reduce your levels.

11. Eat Berries

Pile of Blueberries

Berries
are full of more than just juicy flavor.

They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds
that are good for your heart.

One small study had middle-aged people eat berries for eight
weeks.

Participants experienced improvements in different markers of
heart health, including blood pressure (36).

Another study assigned people with high blood pressure to a
low-polyphenol diet or a high-polyphenol diet containing
berries, chocolate, fruits and vegetables (37).

Those consuming berries and polyphenol-rich foods experienced
improved markers of heart disease risk.

Bottom Line: Berries are rich in
polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the
overall risk of heart disease.

12. Try Meditation or Deep Breathing

Woman Meditating and Relaxing by the Seaside

While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress
reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve
specific mention.

Both meditation and deep breathing are thought to activate the
parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the
body relaxes, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood
pressure.

There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies
showing that different styles of meditation appear to have
benefits for lowering blood pressure (38, 39).

Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.

In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep
breaths over the course of 30 seconds or to simply sit still
for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths lowered their blood
pressure more than those who just sat (40).

Try guided meditation or deep breathing. Here’s a video to get you started.

Bottom Line: Both meditation and deep
breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system,
which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.

13. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

Can of Sardines

People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.

While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to
lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem linked to
healthy levels (41, 42).

For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 mg per
day. For women over 50 and men over 70, it’s 1,200 mg per day
(43).

In addition to dairy, you can get calcium from collard greens
and other leafy greens, beans, sardines and tofu. Here is
a
complete list
.

Bottom Line: Calcium-rich diets are linked
to healthy blood pressure levels. Get calcium through dark
leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.

14. Take Natural Supplements

Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure.
Here are some of the main supplements that have evidence behind
them:

  • Aged garlic extract: Aged
    garlic
    extract has been used successfully as a
    stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies
    for lowering blood pressure (44, 45).
  • Berberine: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic
    and Chinese medicine, berberine may increase nitric oxide
    production, which helps decrease blood pressure (46, 47).
  • Whey protein: A 2016 study found that

    whey protein
    improved blood pressure and blood vessel
    function in 38 participants (48).
  • Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart
    health, fish
    oil
    may benefit people with high blood pressure the most
    (49, 50).
  • Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea.
    They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good
    for your heart and may lower blood pressure (51).

Bottom Line: Several natural supplements
have been investigated for their ability to lower blood
pressure.

15. Eat Foods Rich in Magnesium

Group of-Beans and Lentils

Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels
relax.

While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t
get enough.

Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium
is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical
studies has been less clear (52, 53).

Still, eating a magnesium-rich
diet
is a recommended way to ward off high blood pressure
(53).

You can incorporate magnesium into your diet with vegetables,
dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat and whole grains.

Bottom Line: Magnesium is an important
mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole
foods, such as legumes and whole grains.

Take Home Message

High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s
population.

While drugs are one way to treat the condition, there are many
other natural techniques that can help.

Controlling your blood pressure through the methods in this
article may, ultimately, help you lower your risk of heart
disease.

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