It is an unfortunate reality for so many of us. It starts as a routine doctor’s appointment. You do not expect anything is wrong because you feel completely fine! Before you leave the doctor’s office, though, you have been told that your blood pressure is getting too high and that a change needs to be made. If you’re in the same situation that I was in and you’re wondering where to go from here, you are absolutely not alone. And fortunately, there are ways to offset high blood pressure.
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Why is High Blood Pressure Bad?
You’ve probably heard more about why high blood pressure is bad for you than you ever cared to know. From causing feelings of sluggishness to leading to dangerous consequences like arterial damage to heart failure and everything in between, high blood pressure takes a serious toll on the body.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are some common culprits behind high blood pressure. Dietary choices such as a regular intake of high-salt foods, alcohol, and caffeine can lead to high blood pressure. Emotional stress, smoking, obesity, and inactivity have also been shown to cause high blood pressure. Finally, certain forms of contraception, such as birth control pills, can result in higher blood pressure for certain users.
Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
When you got the news that you needed to lower your blood pressure, you might have felt like I did: at a total loss. Fortunately, there are actually several steps you can take – even today – that can help you get on track to a healthier life. Changing your diet, taking supplements, and making lifestyle changes such as increasing your activity levels are important. These are small, gradual steps you can take over time that can be literally life-changing.
High Fiber Foods
The first dietary change you can make to help lower your blood pressure naturally is to include more high fiber foods into your diet. Increasing your fiber intake has been linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol as well as cholesterol in general. This reduces the pressure on your arteries and makes things flow a little easier. High fiber foods that are beneficial for your heart health include figs, Asian pears, and the deliciously tropical coconut. As an added bonus, foods that are high in fiber help you feel fuller longer. They help curb your appetite and keep you feeling good longer than other sources of nutrition.
High Potassium Foods
Potassium works together with sodium to keep cell energy levels high in your body. Potassium also works to improve cell function in general, which is important regarding blood pressure because potassium helps establish and maintain a delicate balance within the heart. Increasing your potassium intake while decreasing your sodium levels is actually easier and tastier than it sounds. You can look to hearty whole skin potatoes, salmon, sardines, and spinach for a potassium kickstart. With foods like these, lowering your blood pressure is a little bit easier.
You have probably been hearing that you should “eat your vegetables” since you were a kid. Frankly, you might be a little tired of it. The thought of eating what looks like a herbivore dinosaur’s diet, might not seem super appetizing. But did you know that vegetables are actually crucial in lowering your blood pressure naturally? Not only that, but they can also be prepared in a number of different ways that transform these leafy greens into an appetizing meal. Vegetables are high in fiber as well as in potassium, so they pack a serious punch against blood pressure. Kale, spinach and turnip greens are great not only in salads but also in sautés, baked dishes and smoothies. They are low in calories and high in important nutrition – you might be feeling better much sooner than you anticipated!
Along lines similar to vegetables, fresh fruits have probably been pushed toward your plate as long as you can remember. The vegetable’s sweeter sister, fresh fruit plays a vital role in lowering blood pressure. It, too, tends to be high in potassium and antioxidants that help keep your internal systems balanced and your blood pumping easily on your heart. Fresh fruit that is specifically heart-friendly includes berries cantaloupes, oranges, and papaya. These super fruits tend to be high in soluble fiber and potassium. They are also often saturated in magnesium and beta-carotene, not to mention flavor. Fresh fruit makes a great snack, and they also work well in a number of main entrees as well.
Meat lovers, rejoice! You may have heard that meat is off-limits when you are experiencing less than ideal levels of blood pressure. Fortunately, that’s not entirely true. Lean proteins are very heart-healthy. Lean proteins that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon are specifically fantastic choices because omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure. Other lean proteins that are on the healthier side include beans and poultry. The cooking style also increases the degree to which your lean proteins are healthy. Trade out the frier for the oven or the grill, and your heart and taste buds will both thank you! Now, red meat tends to be on the less healthy side. If you really crave it, shaving off most of its fat and sticking to smaller portions is acceptable in moderation.
Legumes, or as most of us know them, beans and peas, are apart of children’s rhymes for a reason: they really are good for your heart! Legumes and beans are a great source of protein as well and an excellent option for those who want the protein without consuming meat. On top of the healthy source of protein, legumes and beans are also a great source of fiber.
Fat gets such a bad reputation, but good fats are an important part of a well-balanced meal. When consumed in moderation, healthy fats are a great source of essential energy for your cells. Foods such as avocados, nuts, and seeds feature a hearty amount of fiber and protein while helping you hit your fat goal for the day. As long as the fats you are consuming are healthy (i.e., not unsaturated or trans fats), they are good in moderation!
If your go-to snack involves grain, don’t fret. Whole grains are actually considered a very heart-healthy food group. Whole grains are rich with nutrients such as fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Most grains should be consumed in moderation. Whole grains, however, are so nutritious that when you do indulge, you really don’t need to feel guilty.
Organic Natural Dairy Products
Not all dairy is created equal. When it comes to lowering your blood pressure, you want to choose organic dairy products that are low in fat, ideally. Organic low-fat dairy products tend to be high in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and phosphorous, which all work together to lower blood pressure. You can work low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or just plain milk into your diet and not feel bad about it!
Fish Oil Supplement Daily
A daily fish oil supplement, also known as DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid ), is a great and easy way to lower your blood pressure without having to consume an absurd amount of salmon! The fish oil supplement contains anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation in your arteries and give your heart a more level playing field! High amounts of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids can cause unwanted side effects such as nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort. It is best that you check with your doctor prior to adding this supplement to your diet.
Magnesium is a mineral in which many people are naturally deficient. A supplement is a great option for people with the deficiency as well as individuals who simply are getting enough magnesium from their diets. Magnesium is responsible for improving blood circulation and therefore lowering blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement, if you aren’t sure if you are consuming enough magnesium through your diet alone.
Coenzyme Q10 Supplement
Coenzyme Q10 works with your body to naturally lower bad cholesterol and cholesterol in general. In turn, it can lower your high blood pressure and help it remain regulated. This daily supplement is an antioxidant that the body tends to respond positively to in conjunction with a heart-healthy diet and under doctor’s supervision.
Regular Cardio Exercise
We know that being sedentary or inactive is not good for your heart health. Sometimes it is difficult to break away from a lifestyle that does not involve daily movement and exercise. Fortunately, heart-healthy exercise can begin with small daily steps – literally. Walking is a great way to get your heart back on track. A daily walk that starts at ten minutes a day and that you gradually work up toward thirty minutes a day can have a huge and lasting impact on your health. Other heart-healthy exercises include swimming, jumping jacks, running (or working your way up to running), riding a bike, rowing or stair climbing. Taking a class by yourself or with a friend is also a great way to incorporate some heart-healthy exercise into your daily routine. You do not have to work out for hours on end every day to lower your blood pressure and maintain that level. It is a good idea to work up to 150 minutes of exercise a week. I know150 minutes sounds like a crazy, unattainable amount, but it really only adds up to half an hour a day, five days a week. Make sure you always begin with a warm-up and end your exercise with a cool down, and don’t forget to go easy on yourself when you get started. Your heart will thank you.
High blood pressure and high levels of stress, unfortunately, go hand and hand. On the plus side, there are so many ways to relieve that tension that are fun and healthy, and that may very well have a positive impact on your blood pressure levels. For the artistic folk, you can unwind by drawing, writing, coloring in an adult coloring book (they’re actually really fun and relaxing) or journaling. For the flexible (or those who want to become more flexible!), there are so many different types of yoga that you can practice. You can make it a point to go out and join a class, or you can even practice yoga from the comfort of your living room with an online video. Practicing deep breathing and regulated breathing, in general, is a great and proven way to help lower your blood pressure. It is a technique that can be employed literally anywhere you find yourself. Other relaxation techniques include some of the following. Calling a friend of a family member you enjoy talking with to unwind. Walking a pet through the park or watching a half-hour of your favorite television program. As long as you are being mindful of how you are feeling and how you are relieving your stress, you are probably on the right track!
High blood pressure is not the end of the world, but for a lot of us, it should mark the end of our lives as we know it. Being diagnosed with high blood pressure is like getting a second chance. There steps you can take to reverse the high blood pressure or keep it moderated. You can also look at this diagnosis as an opportunity to make better life choices that are lasting. Implementing natural ways to lower blood pressure can leave you feeling better mentally, emotionally, and physically for years to come.