1. Lose Weight
Losing weight is about as effective as a single blood pressure medication. Research shows that shedding 9 pounds can reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 4.5 points. Additionally, a study found that maintaining a 7 pound weight loss for a year could lead to a 11-point drop in blood pressure.
2. Exercise More
As with weight loss, exercise is one of the best natural ways to reduce blood pressure without the side effects of medication. Exercising makes arteries more elastic and better able to dilate, which directly influences blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderately intense exercise per week. After 10 weeks of moderate exercise performed 3 hours every week, sedentary adults can expect a 5 point drop in blood pressure.
3. Drink in Moderation
One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of spirits. Studies show that drinking (two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women) can protect heart health. The key is moderation. Binge drinking (30 to 60 drinks per week) can significantly raise blood pressure. Reducing alcohol consumption to the recommended daily dose can lower systolic blood pressure by about 4 points.
4. Snack on Dark Chocolate
Since dark chocolate contains flavanols, it makes blood vessels more elastic. The elasticity increases the chance of lower blood pressure. Research shows that those who ate dark chocolate over a two to eight week period had a lower systolic blood pressure by about 2 points. Be sure to eat dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa.
5. Reduce Salt Intake
Scaling back on salt is one of the most important dietary changes a person can make to lower blood pressure. Though most consume about 9-12 grams of salt a day, the American Heart Association recommends only 3-4 g of salt daily. In one study, going from 8 grams of salt a day to 4 grams resulted in a 6.7 drop in systolic blood pressure.
6. Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is considered one of the best diets. The DASH diet consists of fruits and vegetables and is high in fiber and low in sodium. Following the DASH diet may lead to a 3 point drop in systolic blood pressure. However, since the DASH diet is high in carbohydrates, it makes it difficult for people to lose weight. If you’re looking to lose weight and lower blood pressure, consider a diet that balances carbs with protein and fat.
7. Relax and Meditate
When stressed, the body produces hormones that elevate levels of renin – a kidney enzyme – that causes high blood pressure. As renin levels increase, the heart undergoes hypertension. So for the sake of cardiovascular health, relax and practice deep breathing. Simply take five minutes in the morning and evening to meditate.
In addition to focused breathing and meditation, listen to music. The University of Florence in Italy studied 28 hypertensive participants, who were tasked to listen to calming instrumental music everyday for half an hour. While listening to music, they also practiced deep breathing. By the end of the week, the participants had a 3.2-point drop in systolic blood pressure.
8. Switch to Tea
In a study conducted by the Duke University Medical Center, a 500 mg dose of caffeine (about three 8-ounce cups of coffee) increased blood pressure by 4 mmHg. “When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure,” says Jim Lane, Ph.D., an associate research professor at Duke and the lead author of the study. “And caffeine exaggerates that effect.”
Moreover, caffeine concentration is higher in coffee than in tea or soda. For instance, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains roughly 50-80 mg more caffeine than an 8-ounce cup of tea. So unless you switch to decaf coffee, you may want to consider switching to tea, particularly hibiscus tea. With hibiscus tea, you not only benefit from low levels of caffeine but also from phytochemicals.
Individuals, who participated in a Tufts University study, experienced a seven-point drop in their systolic blood pressure after six weeks of drinking hibiscus tea three times daily. Researchers attribute these impressive results to the phytochemicals in hibiscus. Even if you don’t like hibiscus, you can still reap the benefits; simply drink a herbal blend in which there’s a high concentration of hibiscus.
9. Seek Help for Snoring
Do you snore, experience daytime fatigue, and have early-morning headaches? Then, you may have sleep apnea (OSA). In addition to the other side effects, sleep apnea may also cause high blood pressure. Check with your doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea. Treating OSA may lower aldosterone levels and improve blood pressure.
10. Take Blood Pressure Medication
For some, exercise and diet is not enough to maintain a healthy blood pressure. In some cases, people are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Therefore, if you’ve tried every natural remedy out there and still can’t seem to lower your blood pressure, then medication may be the only solution.
If this is the case for you, make sure you have a rock solid healthcare plan that meets your prescription drug needs. Contact a licensed agent today to discuss your coverage options. They’ll ensure that your insurance meets all your healthcare needs.
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