9 Foods to Keep Blood Pressure Down Naturally!
No matter what life throws at you, you must keep your blood pressure down! The statistics are terrifying but you can get informed, take steps, and keep high blood pressure (hypertension) from destroying your life or the life of a loved one.
The Disease is Quiet, Deadly, and Rampant
High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” because you might not even know you have it (many never experience symptoms) until it’s an emergency. You have it when your blood pumps through your vessels at a higher force than is healthy.
Approximately 75 million American adults have hypertension (32%) and only about half of them (54%) are keeping it regulated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Another 29% of American adults have pre-hypertension. That means their blood pressure is steadily higher than normal and they have a greater risk of developing full high blood pressure.
HBP raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and aneurysm. Each day, more than 1,100 death certificates in the United States list high blood pressure as a cause or contributing factor. There were more than 410,000 deaths in 2014 alone. 1
An Important Word of Caution
While there are many natural ways to keep your blood pressure down, if you’re currently taking blood pressure medication, do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Natural solutions work with your current treatment to help you gain the upper hand.
Once you see progress, your physician can lower your prescribed dose (or even take you off completely). In the meantime, never take risks with the health of your heart!
Know your numbers! You need to know your systolic (what force the blood is pumping out of your heart) and diastolic (what force blood is pumping into your heart).
There are blood pressure monitors in most pharmacies and stores that have pharmacies on the premises. Below is the general guideline released by the CDC.
- Normal Blood Pressure (under 120/80): Systolic below 120 mmHg / Diastolic below 80mmHg
- At Risk Blood Pressure (Prehypertension): Systolic between 120–139 mmHg/ Diastolic between 80–89 mmHg
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) (140/90 or higher): Systolic is 140 mmHg or higher/ Diastolic is 90 mmHg or higher
If you consistently have numbers in at risk or high ranges, you cannot ignore it. There are things you can do in your daily life that help keep your blood pressure down. Even if you haven’t been to a doctor yet, you can make changes that have a measurable effect on your blood pressure.2
Know your risks! All of us have factors that raise or lower our risk of disease. Some of these (such as gender, age, or family history) are unavoidable. That makes it critical to focus on others (such as diet, exercise, weight, and smoking) that are within your control.
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
- Age – your risk goes up as you get older so prevention needs to be a priority at every age and level of health. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) released their findings of a 40% increase in high blood pressure among those 25 and up.3
- Gender – men are more likely to have high blood pressure through middle age. Most women develop high blood pressure after the age of 55.
- Family history– immediate family members with high blood pressure could mean you have a higher personal risk.
- Race – African Americans have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Chronic conditions – diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and even pregnancy can steadily raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- Obesity – when you’re overweight or obese, your heart works harder to pump a higher volume of blood through your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients. The more you weigh, the harder your heart works. 85% of those with hypertension are overweight or obese.
- Sedentary lifestyle – when you don’t move around enough, your “resting” heart rate is generally higher and spikes with small amounts of activity.
- Smoking – tobacco use raises your heart rate during use. Long-term smoking leads to inflammation that damages arterial linings. This makes them constrict and your heart must work harder to push blood through.
- Alcohol – excessive alcohol consumption leads to inflammation that damages your heart. Men shouldn’t drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day and women shouldn’t drink more than 1 per day.
- Stress – stress makes your body produce more cortisol and adrenaline. With chronic stress, your body remains flooded with unnatural levels of these “stress hormones” which leads to rampant inflammation.
- Hormone medications – long-term use (more than five years) of oral contraceptives or post-menopausal drugs (hormone replacement therapies) increases your risk of high blood pressure and other forms of heart disease. The risk of stroke is so high that if you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may not prescribe them.
- Diet – eating a diet high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and refined sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup) gives your body zero nutrition and actually steals what you do have. Help Keep Blood Pressure Down with Food!
Food is the most powerful change you can make to stay healthy. The fuel you provide your cells makes a big impact on disease prevention as well as fighting diseases you already have.
The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kashmir – India reviewed hundreds of studies done on the effect of food on high blood pressure.4
They put together a list of the most promising discoveries from around the world. Here are 9 of the most effective (and readily available) foods that you can probably find in your local market.
9 Foods to Prevent or Manage High Blood Pressure
- Pomegranate juice (Punica granatum) has shown promise in the treatment of high blood pressure. It inhibits angiotensin converting enzymes that raise blood pressure by more than 30%.
- Garlic (Allium sativum) has incredible benefits for the human heart. Allicin helps to relax the muscles of the heart. The antioxidant effects are excellent for lowering inflammation and raising the body’s production of nitric oxide.
- Black bean (Castanospermum austral) compounds called saponin and glucoside have shown excellent results in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in clinical trials.
- Celery (Apium graveolens) is a safe blood pressure treatment for women who are pregnant or nursing. It’s been shown to relieve headaches and dizziness sometimes associated with high blood pressure and is a natural liver detoxifier.
- Green tea (Camellia sinensis) lowers your risk of developing hypertension and many studies have linked it to improved brain and heart health as well as a simple way to lower your personal cancer risk.
- Cacao (Theobroma cacao) polyphenols found in a single ounce of dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure by several points, stimulate the production of nitric oxide, and keep blood vessels supple and healthy. It also helps you feel full and satisfies cravings for other sweet or salty treats!
- Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) have lycopene that studies found slowed the development of artery hardening (atherosclerosis) and lower blood pressure. They have many nutrients your body can use to prevent and fight disease.
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum) contains a compound called eugenol that could aid in lowering blood pressure during peak stress periods.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is well known for improving circulation and relaxing the muscles that surround blood vessels.
What’s wonderful is that these foods do good stuff for your entire body (not just to keep blood pressure down). All of them are cited in countless studies and are well-documented for their health properties. They’re easy to find in most local stores and are well tolerated.
Naturally, if you’re allergic or intolerant of any of the foods on the list, don’t eat them! It’s never too late (or too soon) to focus on heart health.5
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet
2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: High Blood Pressure Facts
3 World Health Organization: Raised Blood Pressure
4 Global Journal of Nanomedicine: An Overview of Management of Hypertension in Clinical Practice (PDF)
5 CNN: More than 1 billion people globally are living with high blood pressure