Research on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet shows that eating at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce blood pressure about as much as medication. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, which helps to balance sodium in your cells to reduce pressure in your blood vessel and has shown to lower risk for stroke. Try to incorporate at least one piece or serving of a fruit or vegetable (or both) into each snack, and include about ½ plate of fruits and vegetables into all your meals.
Other exercise options that don’t require a gym membership include body weight exercises, like pushups, squats, and jumping jacks. These exercises can be done at home or outside. For people who like going to the gym or running, these can be good ways to build community, notes Parker. Apps like Fitbit and MapMyRun can be helpful if you like keeping track of your steps, calories burned, weight, or number of miles run.
Also, if you sit for several hours a day, try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. Research has found that too much sedentary time can contribute to many health conditions. Aim for five to 10 minutes of low-intensity physical activity — such as getting up to get a drink of water or going on a short walk — each hour. Consider setting a reminder in your email calendar or on your smartphone.
7. Cut down on sodium intake: Processed and packaged food needs to go out of your kitchen, if you want healthy levels of blood pressure. This is because processed food is loaded with added preservatives to increase their shelf life. Also, prepare your food with lesser salt as high intake of salt is linked to risks of high blood pressure and stroke.
Initially, these medications were only recommended for people whose blood pressure exceeded 160/100 mmHg, but they are now routinely prescribed when blood pressure approaches 140/90 mmHg, even in the absence of any previous cardiovascular event. Treating mild hypertension with drugs has not been shown to be effective, yet it is common practice (3, 4).
“We have many people with hypertension who come to Pritikin,” says Pritikin’s Associate Medical Director Danine Fruge, MD, “and within three days, many have blood pressures that have dropped so low that we need to reduce their medications or take them off their pills altogether. Yes, just three days. That’s how quickly and powerfully our bodies respond to healthy food, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.”
If you have not been active for quite some time or if you are beginning a new activity or exercise program, take it gradually. Consult your healthcare professional if you have cardiovascular disease or any other preexisting condition. It's best to start slowly with something you enjoy, like taking walks or riding a bicycle. Scientific evidence strongly shows that physical activity is safe for almost everyone. Moreover, the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks.
Exercise can help you lose weight, but it does much more. Exercise strengthens your heart, improves circulation, and it can even reduce stress. Aim to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week, which can lower your blood pressure by 4-9 millimeters of mercury. Good choices include cycling, jogging, aerobic dance, swimming, and tennis. If exercise is new to you, talk to the staff at First Choice Medical for guidance about how to start.
“Exercise, particularly cardio and aerobic exercise, has been known to be a potent dropper of blood pressure for a long time, and we know that fruits and vegetables rich in potassium and naturally occurring nitrates can actually lower blood pressure as effectively as many of the medications,” he said. “So that, to me, is no surprise. It’s nice that they put it all together in this study.”
Most doctors have been taught that once a diagnosis of “high blood pressure” has been made, blood pressure medication is the treatment of choice. As a result, many physicians believe that the current definition of “high” blood pressure is also the same level of blood pressure at which drug treatments are worthwhile. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
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.
Magnesium. High magnesium intake is associated with lower blood pressure and may have a synergistic effect with potassium. Increasing both nutrients while moderately reducing sodium can lower blood pressure to the same extent as a single medication (17). Magnesium stimulates vasodilators and can inhibit free radical formation in blood vessels (18). Nuts, seeds, spinach, beet greens, and chocolate are good whole food sources.
Olive leaf extract. In one 2008 study, supplementing with 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract daily for eight weeks caused a significant dip in both blood pressure and LDL ("bad cholesterol") in people with borderline hypertension. If you want to incorporate olive leaf extract as a natural adjunct to a nutritionally sound diet, you should look for fresh leaf liquid extracts for maximum synergistic potency. You can also prepare your own olive leaf tea by placing a large teaspoon of dried olive leaves in a tea ball or herb sack. Place it in about two quarts of boiling water and let it steep for three to 10 minutes. The tea should be a medium amber color when done.
Most Americans—including 86% of those with high blood pressure—eat more salt than is advised by the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you’re one of them, reducing your intake to less than the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon) a day may make a big difference in your blood pressure (and even better if you can stay below the American Heart Association's 1,500-mg daily limit). Even just reducing your sodium intake by 10 or 20% can help, says Dr. Bisognano. “We ask people to decrease their consumption from sky-high to reasonable levels,” he adds. “Learn not to salt your eggs; finish your lunch without a pickle—you want to make little changes you can tolerate for the long term.”
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.)
This is an interesting thread. I take 400 mg per day of Magnesium on the advice of my naturopath, have done so for a few years now, with some cycling on and off. I successfully manage my tendency towards hypertension through this one simple action (although constantly improving my health in other ways has its’ effects I’m sure!). I find when I cycle off it for too long I start to get muscle cramps and insomnia as well. I have observed a familial link between muscle pain and cramps in my maternal lineage, and believe there is some kind of genetic/epigenetic link to how our family utilises Mg in the body although I have no proof or idea of the mechanism of this. All I know is I’d prefer to supplement Mg moderately than take pharmaceuticals. I look forward to the day I can explain this with science (as I’m a scientist!) – would love any thoughts from Chris or the Kresser Institute experts on this 😊