Ocean Robbins is the author of 31-Day Food Revolution: Heal Your Body, Feel Great, and Transform Your World (Grand Central Life & Style, February 5, 2019). He is the CEO and co-founder of the 500,000+ member Food Revolution Network. He's served as the adjunct professor for Chapman University. And he's received numerous awards, including the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service and the Freedom's Flame Award. Ocean Robbins
A healthy diet is the first step in regaining control of high blood pressure, but don’t let the term “diet” fool you.  This is a lifelong commitment to healthy eating.  Based on the approach known as the DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension), patients should focus on consuming lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy.  By doing so, systolic blood pressure (the top number) could be reduced by as much as 14 points.  Of course, what isn’t included is nearly as important as what is when it comes to a healthy diet.  Those with high blood pressure should also focus on keeping salt and sugar intake to a minimum. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.
Eighty million U.S. adults, or one in three, have hypertension (1). Another one in three have prehypertension, defined as blood pressure in the range of 120–139/80–89 mmHg. In addition to costing $48.6 billion annually, hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, chronic renal failure, and stroke (1). Even prehypertension increases the risk of death from CVD (2). Because of its severity, hypertension requires immediate treatment, but prescription drugs may not be the answer.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of developing hypertension (20), and large doses of vitamin D (50,000 IU per week) have been shown to lower blood pressure over eight weeks (21). One mechanism by which vitamin D may lower blood pressure is through suppressing renin, which regulates mean arterial blood pressure (22). Sun exposure is an easy and cheap way to get vitamin D.
With magnesium, my understanding is that the actual rate of absorption varies enormously between types. Further, any oral form significantly reduces absorption to about 20%. So 1000 mg of a good chelated form is internalised as 200 mg. I have seen an Epsom salts bath three times weekly proposed as a cheaper and better alternative due to it being absorbed through the skin. Another alternative is liquid magnesium but in that case dosage is not controlled.
Reduce sodium in your diet. One easy way to reduce your sodium intake is to limit or avoid processed foods, such lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, frozen dinners, canned vegetables with added salt, and that sort of thing. Most packaged convenience foods, like macaroni and cheese, soups, side dishes, pizzas, and other multi-ingredient foods have a lot of added sodium. Start reading labels and pay attention to the sodium content. You should aim for 1500mg or less every day.

The causes are most often some combination of clogged “pipes” and excessive salt in the diet. Lifestyle changes, such as appropriate diet and exercise, are among the most effective treatment strategies for high blood pressure. Relaxation, meditation, and otherwise “taking it easy” are not effective solutions, as valuable as such strategies may be for your psychological well-being.


For example, eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can limit dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) deposits along the artery that contribute to high blood pressure. Limiting intake of processed foods can lower sodium intake and total cholesterol. This, in addition to exercise, can also help lead to weight loss. Research indicates that losing as little as nine pounds can have substantial impacts on blood pressure.

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).


4. Cut down on processed food. Just about all processed foods contain huge amounts of fructose, particularly fruit drinks or any fruit-flavored products. Fructose is hidden all over the supermarket, even in the most unlikely places: processed meats, breads, pasta sauces and dressings. Fast food chains love fructose. The only thing they love more is vegetable oil.

Ginger, the spicy root often used in Asian cooking, could also help lower blood pressure. According to M. Jan Ghayur and A. Gilani from The Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan and published in the January 2005 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology," ginger can reduce blood pressure by blocking the voltage-dependent calcium channels. MedlinePlus agrees that ginger does reduce high blood pressure, but individuals who take medication for their high blood pressure should use ginger with precaution because ginger might lower it too much or cause an irregular heartbeat.


Start by eating nuts. Pistachio nuts, singled out among other nuts, seem to have the strongest effect on reducing blood pressure in adults. This is according to a recent review and scientific analysis of 21 clinical trials, all carried out between 1958 and 2013. The review appears online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a publication of the American Society for Nutrition.

5. Drink alcohol moderately, if at all. Although moderate alcohol consumption does not reduce the risk of high blood pressure, it is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines “moderate” consumption as an average of no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Drinking more than a moderate amount increases the risk of high blood pressure.


Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest checking it daily or less often. If you're making any changes in your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before your next appointment.

Blood pressure medications should only be taken according to your doctor’s instructions. Never take another person’s blood pressure medication and never take an extra or early dose of your own medications unless advised to do so by your doctor. All blood pressure medications can cause dangerously low blood pressure when taken by the wrong person or when taken in excess or too early.
“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’re already suffering from high blood pressure, eating garlic regularly can reduce your blood pressure by about 20 points, or 10 to 15 percent. When garlic is crushed it releases allicin, which decreases blood pressure and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Make sure you let your garlic sit for about 15 minutes after chopping or crushing, to allow the allicin to release. Cook on a low temperature to get the maximum benefit, as a high temperature will kill many of garlic’s healing properties.
I do all of that. I as on bp meds for 10 years, got sick in 2008, went off all pharma meds, got lots of help from alternative medicine, was off all pharma meds for 9 years and completely and totally changed my diet and lifestyle, then in Oct 2016 my bp started to climb again and, after I had hernia surgery in Nov 2016, my bp went sky-high and won’t come back down no matter what alternative thing I do and won’t stay down unless I am taking bp pills. My primary doctor and cardiologist are trying to say I have essential hypertension–when I was off all bp and pharma meds for 9 years and had no issues with my bp. Nope. Not buying it. Baffled to the high heavens why this time, I can’t seem to get back off bp meds. Working on lots of different things, but haven’t found that magic “aha” item that is causing this yet. Started NP Thyroid and low-dose Naltrexone for hypo/Hashi and all-over body pain/autoimmune and am hoping once they help stabilize my body processes that maybe they will also impact the hbp. Also naturally taking care of female hormones that are off (postmenopausal at age 50).
As much as I want, these alternative therapies do not replace traditional approaches for blood pressure control (low salt diet, medications). The best way to look at them is as strategies to complement what your doctor has already been prescribing you for your high blood pressure. This could really help if you have mild hypertension, where alternative therapies could potentially help you get off your blood pressure medications, but I highly doubt anyone with severe hypertension is getting off their Norvasc just because they started doing transcendental meditation. 

Another study by UCLA researchers of 1,117 men and women with high blood pressure reported that within three weeks of arriving at Pritikin, systolic blood pressure fell on average 9%. Diastolic pressure also fell 9%. Of those taking blood pressure drugs, 55% returned home medication-free. Many of the remaining 45% left Pritikin with their dosages substantially reduced.2
In most cases where high blood pressure is diagnosed, the cause remains unclear. One review paper in the International Journal of Hypertension explains that this accounts for around 90% of all hypertension diagnosis and is usually referred to as essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension is diagnosed when a cause can be identified. Potential causes of secondary hypertension may include:

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your long-term health depends on keeping the condition under control.  The changes above can all help reduce blood pressure levels to a healthy range and potentially allow you to avoid the need for medication.  Still, this is a determination that can only be made by your physician.  Speak with your doctor about your potential treatment options and which may be best for your particular situation.


Sipping on not one but four cups of tea daily can help control blood pressure. A study presented at the European Society of Hyper tension in Milan found those who avoided coffee and tea consumption all together had the highest rates of blood pressure, pulse pressure, and heart rate. Those who drank tea the most often, between one to four cups a day, had the lowest systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, as well as the lowest pulse pressure and heart rate. Pinkies up, for your blood pressure’s sake.
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.)
While making these changes may not mean you can immediately go off your blood pressure medications or never have to take them, they will improve your overall health and reduce your risk for developing other diseases, including diabetes and possibly even cancer. Making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or kidney damage, and reduce the likelihood that your dose of blood pressure medication will need to be increased in the future.
Vitamin K2. Adequate vitamin K2 helps keep calcium from residing in blood vessels, thereby preventing hypertension and calcification (19). Vitamins K1 and K2 have different forms and functions. Vitamin K1 is abundant in leafy greens and many other foods, while vitamin K2 sources are more uncommon: natto (fermented soy), some cheeses, butter from grass-fed cows, goose liver, and egg yolks.
Napping may do your heart some good. Adults with high blood pressure who took hour-long naps every day saw their systolic blood pressure drop an average of 5% over the course of the day in a 2015 study, compared to those who didn’t rest. Those who napped also had to take fewer blood pressure medications than those who didn’t, and seemed to have less damage to their arteries and their heart. The study was only able to show a correlation between napping and blood pressure reduction, but the authors say that the results do suggest a benefit to afternoon siestas. 

With magnesium, my understanding is that the actual rate of absorption varies enormously between types. Further, any oral form significantly reduces absorption to about 20%. So 1000 mg of a good chelated form is internalised as 200 mg. I have seen an Epsom salts bath three times weekly proposed as a cheaper and better alternative due to it being absorbed through the skin. Another alternative is liquid magnesium but in that case dosage is not controlled.


I use a wrist cuff to measure my BP. I am consistently ( I mean every time) able to lower my BP by approximately twenty points, both values, from the initial reading. I do it with controlled breathing. I inhale deeply and hold it until it just begins to become uncomfortable, exhale slowly, and hold the exhale, until it becomes slightly uncomfortable, and then inhale slowly again, and hold it, repeating the process at least 3 times. Not only is the BP down, but the sensation is that of being physiologically calmer.
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.) 

I have had “pre hypertension” with BPs of 135/90. I started a twice a day meditation/deep breathing practice, and an attitude shift away from “being busy”, and my BP fell to the 110/70 range. This process works. I am a physician myself. Go for it. Don’t fall for the myth that everyone has to be on physician prescribed medications for virtually every health issue in the galaxy.
3. Quit smoking and alcohol: Because, neither of the two is of any benefit to your health. What's more is that smoking is listed as a causative factor for almost all diseases. You name a disease, and smoking will be a contributing factor to it. Alcohol, on the other hand, has direct links with increasing blood pressure. No amount of alcohol intake is safe or healthy for men or women.
Hypertension can be effectively treated with lifestyle modifications, medications, and natural remedies. Most people with hypertension experience improvement with prescription treatment such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, or other options, and some may require more than one prescription medication to reach optimal blood pressure. If your hypertension has a medical cause (secondary hypertension), you may also need treatment for medical issues that are contributing to your high blood pressure. 

Some of the risks of blood pressure-lowering medications include headaches, dizziness, depression, sleep problems, erectile dysfunction, and renal or cardiac dysfunction. Often, these side effects lead to additional prescription drugs like testosterone or Viagra. The good news is that dietary changes, lifestyle strategies, and supplements have the potential to reverse high blood pressure without the need for lifelong prescriptions.
If you injure yourself right at the start, you are less likely to keep going. Focus on doing something that gets your heart rate up to a moderate level. If you're physically active regularly for longer periods or at greater intensity, you're likely to benefit more. But don't overdo it. Too much exercise can give you sore muscles and increase the risk of injury.
A 2013 study published in “Hypertension” concluded that flaxseed lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients. It is a great home remedy for high blood pressure. More than 100 patients diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, a condition associated with high blood pressure, were assigned to a flaxseed group or a placebo group. The former ate 30 grams of flaxseed every day for 6 months.
Ginger, the spicy root often used in Asian cooking, could also help lower blood pressure. According to M. Jan Ghayur and A. Gilani from The Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan and published in the January 2005 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology," ginger can reduce blood pressure by blocking the voltage-dependent calcium channels. MedlinePlus agrees that ginger does reduce high blood pressure, but individuals who take medication for their high blood pressure should use ginger with precaution because ginger might lower it too much or cause an irregular heartbeat.

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.
“It’s important to remind all the healthcare people out there that we need to arm ourselves with every tool in the arsenal,” he said. “That includes medications and procedures of course, but we really need to learn more about lifestyle medicine, and a lot of those gaps that are created during our training, we really need to spend time filling so that we have the tools available to treat diseases better — and more cheaply, for that matter.”
Eat salad with an oil and vinegar vinaigrette. Consume a CoQ10 with Krill Oil and fish oil with sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and/or salmon. Eat steel cut oatmeal every other day per week (1 bowl). Drink a cup of Yogi Stress Relief tea. Drink plenty of water and walk for 15 to 30 minutes per day. Minimize stress, and take a medication if all else fails.

Exercise. Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes per week of exercise to help reduce blood pressure. Brisk walking is excellent for reducing blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health, but other exercises can work too. Try jogging, riding a bike, swimming, dancing, or interval training to get your aerobic exercise. Strength training is also important to your heart health and can help reduce blood pressure.
When added to a healthy diet, almonds can help influence lower blood pressure levels. In fact, almonds are included in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — DASH — Diet. In the diet, almonds are included in the “nuts, seeds and legumes” group. The diet recommends eating four to five servings of this food group per week. With regard to almonds, one serving of almonds is just one-third cup. The healthy monounsaturated fat in almonds contributes to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduced arterial inflammation, which ultimately helps lower the pressure inside the arteries.

Certain commercial devices available in the market today help people gather data about their breathing rate and depth, relay the information back to them and play soothing music via headphones to help them relax. One such device quoted by the researchers was Resperate. I tend to think of such devices as basically a type of "assisted-biofeedback" therapy. Such devices could have a role to play in treating hypertension. 
If you have hypertension, ask your doctor if OSA could be behind it. (In addition to loud snoring, common symptoms include excessive daytime tiredness and early morning headaches.) Getting your sleep apnea under control could be helpful for improving your blood pressure, says Robert Greenfield, MD, Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology & Cardiac Rehabilitation at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.
While most Americans with hypertension are treated primarily with drugs, “these drugs do not come close to eliminating all the cardiovascular ills associated with the typical American diet and sedentary lifestyle,” observes Danine Fruge, MD, Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami. Over the last four decades, the Center has helped thousands worldwide lower blood pressure naturally and significantly reduce many cardiovascular risks.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about how to make changes to your diet or if you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to consider working with a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN). Some people work with an RDN if they have a health condition like type 2 diabetes. In fact, high blood pressure is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. This is partly because they share similar modifiable risk factors, like being overweight or obese, following an unhealthy diet, and having a lack of physical activity.
Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's particularly salt-sensitive. But because there's no way to tell whether any one individual is at risk, everyone should consume less sodium, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

A heart rate watch can let you quickly assess your pulse. Here's how to use one. Put the band that comes with it on your chest underneath your shirt. By looking at the watch during exercise, you can see your actual heart rate. This is a good alternative to taking your pulse manually. Ask your doctor to recommend the best target heart rate zone (or training zone) for you.
As explained by Dr. Rosedale, insulin stores magnesium. If your insulin receptors are blunted and your cells grow resistant to insulin, you can't store magnesium so it passes out of your body through urination. Magnesium stored in your cells relaxes muscles. If your magnesium level is too low, your blood vessels will constrict rather than relax, which will raise your blood pressure and decrease your energy level. Insulin also affects your blood pressure by causing your body to retain sodium. Sodium retention causes fluid retention. Fluid retention in turn causes high blood pressure and can ultimately lead to congestive heart failure. If your hypertension is the direct result of an out-of-control blood sugar level, then normalizing your blood sugar levels will also lower your blood pressure readings into the healthy range.
Sunny days not only boost our mood, but they can help keep our blood pressure in check. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found exposure to sunlight can alter the levels of nitric oxide in the skin and blood, therefore reducing the blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of nitric oxide are transported from the skin to the circulation lowering blood vessel tone. This decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Napping may do your heart some good. Adults with high blood pressure who took hour-long naps every day saw their systolic blood pressure drop an average of 5% over the course of the day in a 2015 study, compared to those who didn’t rest. Those who napped also had to take fewer blood pressure medications than those who didn’t, and seemed to have less damage to their arteries and their heart. The study was only able to show a correlation between napping and blood pressure reduction, but the authors say that the results do suggest a benefit to afternoon siestas. 

Fish are a great source of lean protein. Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides. In addition to these fish sources, trout contains vitamin D. Foods rarely contain vitamin D, and this hormone-like vitamin has properties that can lower blood pressure.
Americans eat far too much dietary sodium, up to three times the recommended total amount, which is 1,500 milligrams (mg) daily for individuals with high blood pressure, says Dr. Fisher. It doesn't take much sodium to reach that 1,500-mg daily cap — just 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt. There's half of that amount of sodium in one Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich. Weed out high-sodium foods by reading labels carefully. "It is very difficult to lower dietary sodium without reading labels, unless you prepare all of your own food," says Dr. Fisher. Beware in particular of what the American Heart Association has dubbed the "salty six," common foods where high amounts of sodium may be lurking:
4. Cut down on processed food. Just about all processed foods contain huge amounts of fructose, particularly fruit drinks or any fruit-flavored products. Fructose is hidden all over the supermarket, even in the most unlikely places: processed meats, breads, pasta sauces and dressings. Fast food chains love fructose. The only thing they love more is vegetable oil.
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