But the dark chocolate should be 60 to 70 percent cacao. A review of studies on dark chocolate has found that eating one to two squares of dark chocolate per day may help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation. The benefits are thought to come from the flavonoids present in chocolate with more cocoa solids. The flavonoids help dilate, or widen, your blood vessels (25).
5. Take apple cider vinegar. In addition to lowering blood pressure almost overnight, apple cider vinegar has a myriad of fringe benefits. Apple cider vinegar helps with indigestion, especially if you suffer from diarrhea. It also soothes sore throats, cures hiccups instantly, and lowers cholesterol. Most importantly, it helps with weight loss by improving metabolism and reducing water retention -- and a healthy weight is key to normalizing blood pressure.
Explore the articles below to learn more about blood pressure control and healthy living, and to start developing your own personal guide to lowering blood pressure. Even better, book a health vacation at Pritikin, recently described by The New York Times as the “granddaddy of health-based wellness spas.” Make a personal investment in what matters most – a longer life, a better life.
What is considered low depends a bit on the person, their medical history, and the particular circumstances. It is also important to compare a person’s blood pressure to his or her “usual blood pressure.” A SBP of 102 is different in a young woman who usually has SBP 100-105, compared to an older person who has historically registered SBPs of 130-150.
The heartening news is that most people can effectively control their blood pressure without the need for medications by following a healthy lifestyle like the Pritikin Program.  “Those who still need medications usually require a lower dose and/or fewer drugs, thereby reducing their risk of suffering adverse side effects from the medications,” states Dr. Fruge. 

For instance, in the ground-breaking SPRINT trial of intensive BP lowering in older adults, the researchers checked BP by having participants first rest quietly in a room for five minutes. Then an automatic monitor checked BP three times in a row, with a one-minute interval between each check. The average of these three readings was then used to assess BP and make changes to hypertension medications, if necessary.
Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and magnifying the effects of stress, says James Lane, PhD, a Duke University researcher who studies caffeine and cardiovascular health. "When you're under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure," he says. "And caffeine exaggerates that effect." (Not sure whether you need to cut back? Here are 6 physical symptoms that mean you're drinking too much coffee.)
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