18 Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure (And One Cool Medication Trick)
Cutting down salt is just the beginning. Read on for tips on keeping your circulatory system healthy.
Go for a walk
Just a little exercise can make a difference. A Japanese study found that volunteers who exercised 30 to 90 minutes per week in a health club reduced blood pressure almost as much as those who had more than 90 minutes of sweat sessions every week. Try walking for 15 minutes every day to get the benefits. Here are easy ways to lose weight walking.
Load up on potassium
Potassium—sometimes called the “un-salt”—can lower blood pressure, but less than 2 percent of Americans get the recommended 4.7 grams of potassium a day. Avocados pack in more potassium than any other fruit or veggie, including bananas, so add some to your sandwich or salad for an nutritional boost. Other potassium-rich foods include cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and lima beans. These are some of the healthiest vegetables and the healthiest fruits you can eat.
Schedule your medication
If you’ve started taking pills but still aren’t seeing a drop in blood pressure, make sure to schedule it so you don’t forget. About a quarter of the time, people aren’t seeing results because they forgot to take their medication. Set a reminder on your phone to go off at the same time every day.
Go heavy on the ground pepper
Cutting down on salt could make food taste bland for a few days, but pepper packs in lots of flavor so your taste buds won’t miss the lack of salt. Strong flavors like garlic, basil, and lemon can also help replace salt and train your tongue to stop craving all that sodium.
Invest in a home blood pressure kit
People who regularly check their blood pressure at home have lower overall blood pressure than those who only have it taken at a doctor’s office. Plus, examiners couldn’t catch the 9 percent of people who had high blood pressure at home but not at the office, found a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That same study found that getting tested in the doctor’s office couldn’t identify the 13 percent of people who only had high blood pressure in the office and not at home, which is probably because of the anxiety of being in a doctor’s office. Buy your own kit for an accurate view of your health. Here are other things doctors might not tell you about healthy blood pressure.
Pick a parking spot far from the door
Postmenopausal women who take an extra 4,000 to 5,000 steps every day could reduce their blood pressure by 11 points, according to a University of Tennessee study.
Consuming 4 tablespoons of flaxseed can lower systolic blood pressure in postmenopausal women who have a history of heart disease, a small study found. The seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which probably explains the effect. Try 2 tablespoons in your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons over soup or salad later in the day for a tasty crunch. Stock up on these 8 foods that naturally lower blood pressure.
Replace coffee with tea
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 these other powerful health benefits of tea.
Meditating relieves stress, and numerous studies have shown it can lower blood pressure, too. Every day, carve out five minutes to sit quietly and repeat a mantra like “This, too, shall pass” or “Breathe.” Here are 10 ways to mediate every day without even trying at all.
Snack on dark chocolate
Stiff blood vessels can increase blood pressure, but dark chocolate contains flavonoids to keep your arteries flexible. Three ounces of dark chocolate a day (milk chocolate doesn’t have the same flavonoids) can help reduce blood pressure in older people who have isolated systolic hypertension, which is when only the upper number of a blood pressure reading is high, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Wine, tea, and fruits and veggies also contain flavonoids.
Hold your partner’s hand
During a stressful event, holding hands for 10 minutes keeps blood pressure at bay, found a University of North Carolina study. A quick hug afterward could also help keep your levels steady.
Snack on dried apricots
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During the drying process, the concentration of apricots’ potassium, beta-carotene, fiber, and iron—which all help your circulatory system—increases. Reach for an unsulfured type for a snack that has just 100 calories in eight.
Wear earplugs when you sleep
Snoozing while exposed to noise can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, studies suggest. Grab a pair of earplugs to help keep the sound out. Here are more doctors’ tricks to sleep better.
Drink two glasses of orange juice
Volunteers who drank a glass of orange juice at morning and another at night reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 percent and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 4.6 percent, found a Cleveland Clinic study. OJ is high in potassium, which probably explains the benefits.
Adopt a pet
Having a furry friend helps people with hypertension keep blood pressure changes in check just as much as taking the hypertension drug Zestril, one study found.
Assess your sleeping habits
About half of the people who have sleep apnea also have hypertension. The sleep disorder, in which breathing stops and starts dozens or hundreds of times a night, can be recognized by loud snoring or excessive tiredness during the day. Talk to a doctor if you think you might have these signs of sleep apnea.
Munch on soy nuts
Eating an ounce of roasted soybeans every day for two weeks can reduce systolic readings by 10 points on average among people with high blood pressure, studies have shown. Pick up an unsalted bag of the crunchy snacks at a supermarket or health food store.
Cut out hidden salt
Sodium hides in unlikely places, like many breakfast cereals. Every day, try to identify one source of sneaky salt and find a low-sodium replacement.
Garlic, calcium, fish oil, and CoQ10 have properties that can help lower blood pressure. Ask a doctor if you should start taking them daily.