Six tips to naturally lower your blood pressure

During American Heart Month, we invite the more than 67 million American’s with high blood pressure to say farewell to an unmanaged condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, uncontrolled high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, and individuals with high blood pressure are more than three times more likely to die from these factors than people with normal blood pressure. 

1. Skip the salt…

Use salt-free seasoning blends avoid processed foods, which are extremely high in sodium.  

2. But eat dark chocolate. 

According to Prevention, a recent study showed 18% of individuals who ate a ½ ounce of dark chocolate everyday experienced a decrease in blood pressure. The flavanols in chocolate make your blood vessels more elastic, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Kick that caffeine habit…

Or at least reduce your consumption, as excess caffeine can tighten blood vessels and increase stress levels. 

4. But don’t (completely) give up alcohol. 

Although it’s been proven that avoiding alcohol can lower your blood pressure, new evidence suggests that having one drink a night can lower your blood pressure even more.  

5. Hit the gym…

This one’s a no brainer. Regular exercise is good for you in pretty much every way, including lowering stress levels and increasing your heart’s ability to use oxygen effectively. 

6. But not too hard. 

Although there’s nothing wrong with a rigorous routine, slowing down can help you release daily tension and decrease stress hormones. It might be as simply as taking a couple of deep breaths, or joining a yoga class at Galter LifeCenter

Diet is the most important factor in lowering blood pressure. Here's why.

“Lowering your blood pressure through diet is about much more than simply avoiding junk foods,” said Elizabeth Foley, RDN, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Swedish Hospital.  “What you eat is just as important as what you don’t eat! It’s essential to develop a good nutrition plan.”

“The key to lowering blood pressure is having a healthy diet that’s low in fats and simple carbohydrates and high in fruits and vegetables,” said Muna Siddiqi, MS, RD, CDE, the certified diabetes educator at Swedish Hospital. “You should include low-fat dairy products as well as nuts and seeds, and it’s also important to limit sodium intake even if you are on medication.”

It’s best to develop a comprehensive approach to lowering your blood pressure. Experiment with two or more of the above tips to reach the most benefits from your new practices. 

To schedule a nutrition counseling appointment at Swedish Hospital, call 773-878-6888.

To schedule a heart disease screening, available every Thursday morning, please visit our events page

By Bill Ligas | Published March 4, 2016

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