It’s a common question among our guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center, who are taught how devastating the high-salt U.S. diet is to our blood pressure and overall health. Searching for alternatives, people often ask: What about salt substitutes with potassium? And what about MSG? Isn’t it a bad choice? Here are answers, some of which may surprise you.
My BP since in my 30’s has been 135/75. I am 72 and last June it was averaging 160/70. I joined WW and lost 35 lbs but my home readings (BP monitor checked with doctor’s) 150-160/65-70. However, at doctors office it went from 170-145/75. I am planning to home monitor twice per day this next week. Another concern, my doctor is not concerned enough to put me on a hypertension pill. Isn’t 140 and above alarming? Health wise, my other health readings are all normal or below…..cholesterol, diabetes, plaque in arteries, etc.
1) Raw almonds. Eating just a handful of truly raw almonds every day can make a significant difference in keeping your blood pressure levels in check. A key component of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, also known as DASH, raw almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been scientifically proven to help lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce arterial inflammation, and ultimately lower blood pressure levels.
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring enzyme. It contains antioxidants that are good for maintaining cardiac health. CoQ10 has been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduces the thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophy). There are no known side effects of CoQ10 since it naturally occurs in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, for the treatment of hypertension, take 60-360 milligrams daily for 8-12 weeks.
Eating nutritious foods that are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants is a great way of lowering your blood pressure and keeping it down for good. Raw vegetables and fresh fruits are vital to a healthy diet and play a key part in controlling your blood pressure. Spinach, tomatoes and garlic are all good choices for keeping blood pressure down. 
If you are in good health and prefer to minimize your cardiovascular risk, it could be reasonable to aim for a lower BP goal, such as that in the SPRINT study. I would just encourage caution about bringing that morning reading down further. You could discuss whether diet or other lifestyle changes might help you bring down BP, and then you could also talk to your doctor about adjusting your BP medications.
And remember: If you do a water fast, it’s critical to drink high-quality water. (Many Food Revolution members like the AquaTru water filter because it delivers high-quality water for a remarkably affordable price. Find out more and get a special discount here. If you order from this link, the AquaTru manufacturer will contribute a portion of the proceeds to support Food Revolution Network’s mission of healthy, ethical, sustainable food for everyone who eats.)
It is notable that relaxation and meditation, though useful for many purposes, have not been found to impact high blood pressure. Many people find this surprising, possibly since high blood pressure also is known as “hypertension.” Because of this potentially misleading term, many people have assumed that high levels of stress or “tension” are a major cause of “hypertension,” or high blood pressure. This is not the case. High blood pressure is an essentially mechanical, and not psychological, problem.
Editor’s Note: Considerable controversy exists about whether fat or cholesterol are, per se, drivers of atherosclerosis. They are implicated in some studies, while others indicate that quality of fat, and placement in a wider dietary pattern, may be more significant to ultimate impact. What seems clear, however, is that a diet high in animal products, sugar, and processed foods is often a recipe for high blood pressure and heart disease.
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2. Take the right nutrients. Talk with your chiropractor or other healthcare professional about the wide range of well-studied nutrients that, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications, can help normalize your blood pressure. One meta-analysis found magnesium supplements could lower blood pressure. Likewise, researchers find a small but significant decline in blood pressure for people with hypertension who use fish oil. (You can get all of fish oil’s benefits combined with anti-inflammatory flax oil and GLA in our Optimal Omega.)
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Chronic hypertension causes the arteries throughout a patient’s body to become damaged and can lead to additional complications that may yield fatal consequences, especially when left untreated. One study noted that there is a significant increase in the risk for coronary artery disease and stroke amongst people who have elevated or high blood pressure. The study also noted that developing this condition at a younger age seems to hold an opportunity for more risks.
Pickering TG, et al. Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals: Part 1: blood pressure measurement in humans: a statement for professionals from the Subcommittee of Professional and Public Education of the American Heart Association Council on High Blood Pressure Research. Hypertension. 2005 Jan;45(1):142-61.
4. Find an exercise that works for you (and do it). Moving more can help reverse high blood pressure. One meta-analysis of 65 studies found regular exercise provides both an acute and longer-term reduction in blood pressure. Whether you’re an exercise novice or a conditioned athlete, these four strategies can help you create an effective workout plan to optimize health.
7. Visit your chiropractor. A special chiropractic adjustment could significantly lower high blood pressure, a placebo-controlled study suggests. “This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood–pressure medications given in combination,” study leader George Bakris, MD, told WebMD. Your chiropractor can create an effective protocol that helps normalize blood pressure without medication or other invasive procedures.
Too much booze is known to raise blood pressure. But having just a little bit could do the opposite. Light to moderate drinking (defined as one drink or fewer per day) is associated with a lower risk for hypertension in women, according to research from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Moderate drinking could play a role in heart disease prevention too, studies show.
Elevating your feet will not lower blood pressure and will actually increase the blood pressure reading when your feet are higher than your heart. On the other hand, if you are doing activities to relieve stress such as yoga (which often elevates your legs, such as legs-up-the-wall pose), then over the long run, these stress reducing activities may help to decrease your blood pressure (but it is not the act of elevating the legs that is lowering the blood pressure it is the stress relieving activity).