High blood pressure (HBP) is an easily preventable condition, but according to studies it plays a contributing role in more than 15% of deaths in the United States. It doesn’t have any visible symptoms, but can boost the risk of heart attack, stroke, cognitive decline and kidney failure. Thankfully, many most people can reduce their blood pressure the natural way. Your first step should be to get to a healthy weight, then try these strategies for added health benefits.
Just breathe. Slow breathing and meditation decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. Try 5 minutes in the morning and at night. Inhale deeply and expand your belly. Exhale and release all of your tension.
Remember the three Ps: pack in the potassium-rich produce. Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part lowering blood pressure. High potassium foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, prunes and raisins.
Cut the salt. Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have blood pressure that’s particularly sodium sensitive. There’s really no way to tell who is sodium sensitive and who isn’t, but if your HPB is a problem, it’s probably worth cutting out some salt. Experts recommend a diet with a max intake of 1,500 mg of sodium daily. Check the labels on your processed food and season foods with spices, herbs, lemon and salt-free seasoning blends.
Indulge yourself with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate varieties feature flavanols that make blood vessels more elastic. Have up to ½ ounce of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa daily.
Hug a cat. Entertain the idea of owning a pet or spending time with animals. Animals have a natural calming ability and studies have shown people who interact with pets have decreased blood pressure.