If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might want to find out quick, healthy and natural ways to lower your high blood pressure at home.
Lifestyle plays an important role in the treatment of high blood pressure. If you successfully control blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you could avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
Elevated pressure or hypertension is called a “silent killer” for a reason. There are often no symptoms, but the main risk is for heart disease and stroke.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is shortened mm Hg.
There are two numbers included in the measurement:
- Systolic blood pressure. The upper number represents pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is ticking.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The lower number represents pressure in the blood vessels between beats, when your heart is idle.
Your blood pressure depends on how much blood pumps your heart and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. The narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
- Blood pressure lower than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.
- Blood pressure that is 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high.
If your numbers are above normal, but below 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of elevated pressure. This means that you have a risk of developing high blood pressure.
The good news about high blood pressure is that lifestyle changes can significantly lower your number and reduce your risk – without the need for medication.
Top tips on how to lower blood pressure
Here are 15 lifestyle changes you can take to lower high blood pressure naturally.
1. Lose excess weight and watch your waist
Blood pressure often increases with weight gain. Being overweight can also cause impaired breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further increases blood pressure.
Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes to control blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you are overweight or obese can help lower your blood pressure.
In general, you can lower the pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram of weight you lose.
In addition to shedding weight, you should usually keep an eye on your waist. Too much weight around your waist can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is more than 102 centimeters.
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is more than 89 centimeters.
These numbers differ among ethnic groups. Ask your doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.
2. Eat healthy
If you eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and lower your intake of cholesterol and saturated fats, you can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg.
This diet plan is known as the dietary approach to stop hypertension (DASH diet).
It is not easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips you can adopt a healthy diet:
- Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, even just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Track what you eat, how much, when and why.
- Consider increasing potassium. Potassium can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, and not supplements.
- Be a savvy customer. Read the labels on the packages when you shop and stick to the healthy eating plan and when you’re dining out.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity – such as 150 minutes a week or about 30 minutes most days of the week – can lower blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. It is important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, blood pressure can rise again.
If you have elevated pressure, exercising can help you avoid developing hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure to a safer level.
Some examples of aerobic exercises that you can use to try to lower your blood pressure include walking and running, cycling, swimming or dancing. You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves exchanging short bursts of intense activity with recovery periods of lighter activities.
Strength training can also help lower blood pressure. The aim is to include strength exercises at least two days a week. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.
4. Eat more potassium and less sodium
Increasing potassium intake and reducing salt can also reduce blood pressure. Potassium is a double winner: it lowers the effects of salt in your system, and also relieves tension in your blood vessels.
However, a diet rich in potassium can be harmful to people with kidney disease, so talk to your doctor before you increase your potassium intake.
It’s easy to eat more potassium – so many foods are naturally rich in potassium. Here are a few:
- low-fat dairy foods, such as milk and yoghurt
- fruits, such as bananas, apricots, avocados and oranges
- vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, greens and spinach
Keep in mind that individuals react differently to salt. Some people are sensitive to salt, which means that higher salt intake increases their blood pressure. Others are insensitive to salt. They can have a high intake of salt and excrete it with urine without increasing blood pressure.
The National Institutes of Health recommend reducing salt intake using DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension).
The DASH diet emphasizes:
- low sodium foods
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat dairy products
- whole grains
- less sweets and red meat
5. Lower stress levels
Chronic stress can contribute to increased blood pressure. More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure.
Intermittent stress can also contribute to increased pressure if you respond to stress by eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol or smoking.
Take some time to think about what makes you feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what causes your stress, think about how you can eliminate or reduce stress.
If you can not eliminate all stressors, you can at least deal with them in a healthier way.
- Change your expectations. For example, plan your day and focus on your priorities. Avoid trying to do too much and learn to say no. Understand that there are some things that you can not change or control, but you can focus on how you react to them.
- Focus on solving the problem. If you have problems at work, try talking to your manager. If you have a conflict with a child or spouse, take steps to solve it.
- Avoid stress triggers. Try to avoid triggers whenever you can. For example, if rush hour traffic on the way to work causes stress, try leaving early in the morning or by public transport. Avoid people who create stress for you if possible.
- Find time to relax. Every day take the time to sit still and breathe deeply. In your schedule, take the time for pleasant activities or hobbies, such as walking, cooking or volunteering.
- Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude to others can help you reduce stress.
- Eat foods that relieve stress
6. Stop smoking
Every cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure many minutes after you’re done. Quitting smoking helps you get your blood pressure back to normal.
Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. People who quit smoking can live longer than people who never quit smoking.
7. Reduce caffeine
The role of caffeine in blood pressure is still being discussed. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may feel little or no impact on blood pressure.
Although the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure are unclear, it is possible that blood pressure may increase slightly. To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your blood pressure within 30 minutes after drinking a caffeine drink.
If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine on the increase in blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about the effects of caffeine on blood pressure.
8. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By drinking alcohol only in moderation – mostly one drink a day for women or two for men – you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4mm Hg.
But this protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol.
Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by a few points. It can also reduce the efficiency of blood pressure medication.
9. Eat less processed foods
Most of the extra salt in your diet comes from processed foods and food from restaurants, not from your salt shaker at home. Popular high-salt products include delicacy, canned soup, pizza, chips and other processed snacks.
Foods labelled “low in fat” usually contain a lot of salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food flavor and makes you feel full.
If you reduce – or better yet, throw out processed foods, you will eat less salt, less sugar and less refined carbohydrates. All this can result in lower blood pressure.
Make it your practice to check tags. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a sodium list of 5 percent or less on the food label is considered low, while 20 percent or more are considered high.
10. Try meditation or yoga
Meditation, including transcendental meditation and yoga has long been used — and studied — as methods to reduce stress, and can also be effective in lowering pressure.
One yoga study found a drop in blood pressure on average of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic pressure in people who practiced yoga compared to those who did not exercise.
11. Eat some dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate lovers: Dark chocolate has been proven to lower blood pressure.
But dark chocolate should be from 60 to 70 percent cocoa. A review of studies on dark chocolate found that eating one to two cubes of dark chocolate a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
The benefits are thought to come from flavonoids present in chocolate with more solid cocoa ingredients. Flavonoids help to dilate blood vessels.
12. Get a good night’s sleep
Your blood pressure usually drops when you sleep. People who have sleep deprivation, especially those in middle age, have an increased risk of high blood pressure.
There are many ways that will help you sleep peacefully. Try to set a regular sleep schedule, spend time relaxing at night, exercise during the day, avoid naps and make your bedroom comfortable.
One heart health study found that regular sleep for less than 7 hours at night and more than 9 hours a night is associated with an increased prevalence of hypertension.
Regular sleep less than 5 hours at night is associated with a significant risk of hypertension in the long term.
13. Take supplements to lower blood pressure
These supplements are readily available and have shown promise to lower blood pressure:
- Omega-3 multiple unsaturated fatty acid. Adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or fish oil to your diet can have a number of health benefits, and help lower blood pressure.
- Whey proteins. This protein complex obtained from milk can have several health benefits, with a possible lowering of blood pressure.
- Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is associated with high blood pressure. Meta-analysis revealed lowering of blood pressure by adding magnesium.
- Coenzyme Q10. In several small studies, the antioxidant CoQ10 lowered the systolic pressure by 17 mm Hg, and diastolic to 10 mm Hg.
- Citrulin. Oral L-citrulin is a precursor to L-arginine in the body, the building block of protein, which can reduce blood pressure.
14. Eat garlic or take garlic extract supplements
Fresh garlic or garlic extract or garlic extract are often used to lower pressure.
According to one clinical study, the preparation of garlic extract may have a greater effect on blood pressure than ordinary garlic powder tablets.
One study in people with high blood pressure found a diastolic reduction of 6 mm Hg and a systolic reduction of 12 mm Hg in those who consumed garlic, compared to people without any treatment.
15. Eat foods with high protein content
Long-term research has shown that people who eat more protein have a lower risk of high blood pressure.
For those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day, there was a 40 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those on a low-protein diet. Those who also added regular fiber to their diet noticed up to a 60 percent reduction in risk.
However, a high protein diet may not be for everyone. Those who have kidney disease may need to be careful, so talk to your doctor.
It is quite easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most type of diet.
Foods with a high protein content include:
- fish, such as salmon or canned tuna in water
- poultry, such as chicken breasts
- beans and legumes, such as beans and lentils
- nuts or nut butter such as peanut butter
- chick pea
- cheese, such as cheddar
A 100 g serving of salmon can contain as much as 22 g of protein, and a 100 g serving of chicken breast can contain 30 g of protein.
As for vegetarian options for proteins, a serving of a cup of most types of beans contains 7 to 10 g of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter would give 8 g.