If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may wonder whether you’ll need medication to help control it. In some cases, the answer is yes, but in others, you can lower your blood pressure in natural ways.
Did you know? More than 108 million American adults have high blood pressure, making it one of the most common conditions. High blood pressure is a problem for your health in and of itself, but it also increases your risk of many serious health issues, including heart attack and stroke.
Six ways you can lower your blood pressure (without medication):
1. Get moving
You knew a list of ways to reduce your blood pressure would include regular exercise, right? But it’s more than that, too. While you should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, it’s also important to simply move more in general. Stand up at your desk more often, take a stroll around the office or the house, do some type of movement during your favorite TV show, or take a quick walk around the block – avoid long stretches of sitting.
2. Put down the saltshaker
High blood pressure is often tied to excessive sodium intake. Not salting your food too much is one way to reduce that, but much of the sodium in our diets comes from prepared or processed foods. Even if the food doesn’t taste especially salty, make sure to keep an eye on food labels—aim for only 2,300 mg of sodium each day.
3. Get more potassium
This one goes hand-in-hand with the tip to reduce your sodium intake. Potassium helps reduce the effect salt has on your body and protects your blood vessels. Fill your plate with potassium-rich foods, including fish, bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, greens and tomatoes. (One caveat: If you have kidney disease, talk with your doctor before taking in more potassium.)
4. Say no to smoking
You know that smoking isn’t good for your health. Not only is it detrimental to your lungs, it’s especially harmful to the arteries. The chemicals found in tobacco can increase your blood pressure by damaging the artery walls, narrowing them, and causing inflammation. Even secondhand smoke can have a negative impact, so it’s best to steer clear.
5. Find healthy ways to manage stress
You can’t fully eliminate stress from your life, which is why it’s important to find healthy ways to work through it, like exercising, journaling, talking with friends and spending time in nature. If these simple tips don’t do the trick, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
6. Eat some dark chocolate
We saved the best tip for last! Dark chocolate, which contains between 60 and 70 percent cacao, has been shown to help lower blood pressure. It’s thought that flavonoids found in the chocolate help dilate the blood vessels.
Heart Care for a Lifetime
As the state’s most forward-thinking heart and vascular program, Georgia Heart Institute is reimagining the patient experience, integrating services across all heart and vascular specialties and incorporating innovative breakthroughs into the care our experts provide every day. Ultimately, our impressive team of cardiologists, surgeons and highly-trained specialists is saving and improving lives for generations.