If you are in this 130/80 range, reducing your blood pressure can help protect you from heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and even cognitive decline. The goal of the new guidelines is to encourage you to treat your high blood pressure seriously and to take action to bring it down, primarily using lifestyle interventions. "It is well documented that lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure as much as pills can, and sometimes even more," says Dr. Fisher.
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.
Exercise can also lead to lower blood pressure. Although performing moderate to vigorous exercise leads to higher blood pressure during activity, it is lowered afterwards. A wealth of studies indicate that getting 150 minutes per week of exercise—whether walking, cycling, gardening, dancing, or weights—can lead to significant drops in blood pressure over time. Try to exercise every day, but even three or four times per week can bring on big improvements.
High blood pressure is not usually something that you can feel or notice, and it can go undiagnosed because there are usually no symptoms. Regardless, high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage, stroke or a heart attack. Therefore, it's important you get your blood pressure checked regularly. Check with your GP or nurse how often to get it checked.
For a study in Nutrition Journal, Australian researchers looked at the effects of beet juice on blood pressure among healthy men and women. Participants drank either beet plus apple juice or plain apple juice, then had their blood pressure monitored over 24 hours. The results: The researchers observed a reduction in systolic blood pressure six hours after participants drank beet juice, especially among the men. Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure.