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.
The calculated difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures is also of interest. If the difference is large (e.g. 170/85), it could be the sign of stiff arteries – often caused by heart disease. This means the blood vessels can’t dilate enough when the heart sends out a pulse, which forces the blood pressure to increase. (The walls can’t expand, so the pressure rises when the heart tries to pump the blood through.)
Mildly or moderately elevated blood pressure will rarely give obvious symptoms (a light headache might occur sometimes). A very high blood pressure can give severe headaches, fatigue and nausea. High blood pressure is the result of an increased amount of liquid and salt in the blood, and also of the blood vessel walls being thicker and harder than normal.
Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a printable (PDF) or online tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
Smoking is a habit that can worsen nearly any health condition. With each cigarette smoked, blood pressure increases temporarily. Over the long-term, smoking can compound the health problems associated with high blood pressure by damaging blood vessels and arteries and causing inflammation throughout the body. While quitting may not be easy, programs such as Commit to Quit can help with resources such as assistance from medical professionals, prescription medications, and group support.
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).
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.)
Hildegard’s belief in balance among spirit-mind-body helps to identify and reduce the high-pressure situations we face in our daily routine. Taking the time to explore our psychological circumstances and environmental stressors is an important part of managing the risk factors for high blood pressure. It is also how we maintain overall wellness according to the doctrine of holistic healing.
If you happen to love any of the above alternative approaches, or are doing it as part of your healthy lifestyle, you can continue to do so. Remember they complement, and not necessarily replace traditional approaches and medications that your doctor suggests. You might see only a modest reduction in your blood pressure, but you know what...it is probably not going to hurt either!
If you suffer from high blood pressure, your body is forcing too much blood against your artery walls. This can cause damage to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys. It can also lead to serious health problems such as heart failure, stroke, coronary heart disease and kidney failure, states the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. However, you can naturally lower your blood pressure by eating certain foods.
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).
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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.