5 Ways to Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure
If you don’t have high blood pressure then you definitely know someone that does. It’s running rampant in our culture and one of the most commonly prescribed conditions. Having healthy blood pressure readings (i.e. 120/80) is super important because elevated levels increase our risk for heart attack and stroke. This week I highlight five proven ways to lower your blood pressure without medications.
Balance your blood sugar (i.e. don’t eat crap) — Several studies indicate an increased risk for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risks in diabetics and those with impaired glucose regulation (1). Avoid sugar, packaged foods, packaged drinks and processed, simple carbohydrates like pasta. Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts/seeds.
Engage in aerobic exercise EVERY DAY — Aerobic or ‘with oxygen’ exercise provides cardiovascular training and includes: swimming, walking, running, rowing, biking, etc. The American Heart Association recommends a MINIMUM of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5-7 days a week. If you have high blood pressure, know that aerobic exercises are able to lower both systolic and diastolic readings (i.e. the top and bottom numbers) (2).
Eat garlic — Garlic contains allicin, a compound found in fresh, crushed garlic. Allicin is where the magic is. Several studies show that garlic can reduce blood pressure, especially if you have high blood pressure already (3). The more you eat, the better the results. To achieve therapeutic doses, aim for about half a clove daily. To maximize this effect, crush the garlic and let stand for 10 minutes before using it.
Get your OMEGA-3’s — These polyunsaturated fats are found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Several studies link high dose supplementation to decreases in blood pressure. For this effect, doses of >3 grams were used. I’m sure you’ve heard our oceans are polluted and fish contaminated. Therefore it is not recommended to go the economical route here. Choose companies that are third party tested for heavy metals and other unwanted contaminants. I personally use and recommend Nordic Naturals.
Manage your stress — Our lives can be super stressful these days. Work, kids, chores, bills, expectations, relationships, this list goes on. Stress hormones innately increase blood pressure, so that our muscles have the capacity to run from the threat (4). The problem is that there’s usually no running involved and these perceived threats happen too often. Do what you have to do in order to lower stress levels. Meditation, therapy, long walks, being with nature or with loved ones. Sometimes this means sacrificing work time so that you can unplug and get out of town.