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.
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.)
If you cannot be sure that your diet includes sufficient potassium, consider supplementation. However, including potassium in your diet gives better results, as an intake from food can be accessed by the body more efficiently. Potassium-rich foods include squash, sardines, salmon, raisins, potatoes, organs, pears, legumes, beets, bananas, carrots, and apricots, among many other fruits and vegetables.
Those who received a placebo drink improved their reading by only 1 point. The phytochemicals in hibiscus are probably responsible for the large reduction in high blood pressure, say the study authors. Many herbal teas contain hibiscus; look for blends that list it near the top of the chart of ingredients for low blood pressure—this often indicates a higher concentration per serving.
Cardamom is a seasoning that comes from India and is often used in South Asian cuisine. A small study of 20 people investigating the health effects of cardamom found that participants with high blood pressure saw significant reductions in their blood pressure readings after taking 1.5 grams of cardamom powder twice a day for 12 weeks. You can include cardamom seeds or powder in spice rubs, soups and stews, and even baked goods for a special flavor and a possible positive health benefit.
How low should you go? Aim to keep your sodium intake below 1,500 mg for healthy blood pressure, recommends the American Heart Association. That’s about half of what most Americans consume per day. Going easy on the saltshaker can help, but you’ll make a bigger impact by watching the sodium count in packaged or processed foods, Obarzanek says. (Pay extra attention to bread and rolls, pizza, soup, cold cuts, poultry, and sandwiches, which tend to pack the most salt.) Then try these other simple ways to slash your salt intake.
In a 2014 review of previous studies, people who consumed probiotics—healthy bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods—saw their systolic blood pressure reduced an average of 3.6 points, and their diastolic reduced 2.4 points, compared to those who didn’t. Those with blood pressure higher than 130/85 experienced the greatest reductions, along with those who took probiotic supplements or ate probiotic foods for longer than two months. (Any blood pressure over 120/80 mm Hg is considered elevated.) Experts say any effect probiotics have on blood pressure is likely modest, but that they may play a role in an overall heart-healthy lifestyle.
Coconut water finds itself high on the list of home remedies for high blood pressure. One of the causes for high blood pressure is an imbalance of electrolytes in the blood. Because coconut water contains an adequate supply of minerals and salts, it can help counter this imbalance. Modern researchers say the potassium content in coconut water plays a huge role in lowering blood pressure. Both potassium chloride (seen in supplements) and potassium citrate (seen in foods) can help lower blood pressure. Potassium helps balance out the level of sodium in your blood and keeps your body functioning properly.
High blood pressure is a silent killer that can cause damage throughout the body while going completely undetected. According to the CDC, 75 million, or 1 in 3, American adults have high blood pressure. Yet, only about half of those have their condition well-managed. Unfortunately, when not kept under control, high blood pressure can contribute to some very serious health concerns including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
If you are insulin resistant, you'll definitely want to include weight training in your exercise program. When you work individual muscle groups, you increase blood flow to those muscles. Good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity. Depending on your physical condition when you embark on your exercise program, you may need to consult with a health care professional for help increasing to the intensity required to lower your insulin level. Exercise in combination with the supplement L-arginine has been shown to correct the abnormal functioning of blood vessels seen in people with chronic heart failure. However, I would view this more as a drug approach and not necessarily a supplement you would consider using for optimizing health in general. L-arginine probably works through its interaction with nitric oxide. I would consider it an adjunct, not a replacement, for coenzymeQ10, which is a well-proven therapy for heart failure.
“I always recommend that people find something that they enjoy doing to stay in shape. For example, line dancing, walking outside, and riding a bike are all good ways to get active,” says Scott Parker, a health and fitness trainer and a national spokesperson for #GoRedGetFit — an online fitness challenge for women hosted by the AHA and Macy’s. “It’s also important to find other people you like doing the activity with, because that helps you stick with it.”
Exercises like walking can be incorporated into almost any lifestyle, even the most pressed for time. Studies have shown that even short bursts of exercise, 15 to 20 minutes of time, will lower blood pressure, and perhaps quickly lower blood pressure. Over the course of a day, anyone can easily incorporate such small increments to build a routine totaling a half hour or more. A busy schedule need not be an excuse to avoid exercise.
Cat’s claw is an herbal medicine used in traditional Chinese practice to treat hypertension as well as neurological health problems. Studies of cat’s claw as a treatment for hypertension in rodents indicate that it may be helpful in reducing blood pressure by acting on calcium channels in your cells. You can get cat’s claw in supplement form from many health food stores.
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.
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.
The sweet serves up flavanols that help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and boosting blood flow. On average, regular dark chocolate consumption could help lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 5 points and your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by almost 3 points, suggests an Australian analysis. How dark are we talking? Experts haven't been able to determine an ideal percentage of cocoa, says Vivian Mo, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. But the higher you go, the more benefits you'll get.
To calculate your target training heart rate, you need to know your resting heart rate. Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when it's at rest. The best time to find your resting heart rate is in the morning after a good night's sleep and before you get out of bed. Typically, an adult’s resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. However, for people who are physically fit, it's generally lower. Also, resting heart rate usually rises with age.