As a cardiologist, I’m often approached by people who desperately want to know how to lower blood pressure—and that’s a great question. Maintaining healthy blood pressure goes a long way toward ensuring overall good health.
There are many things you can do to lower blood pressure naturally. But before I tell you what they are, I first want to explain what blood pressure is and why it is so important to keep your numbers in the normal blood pressure range.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure of your blood on the walls of the blood vessels as it flows through your circulatory system. Blood pressure is reflected in two numbers: systolic pressure (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number).
- Systolic Pressure: The systolic number is a measurement of the pressure on your artery walls when your heart muscle contracts. A normal systolic pressure should be below 120. If your systolic pressure is 130 or higher, you are outside of the healthy blood pressure range and some type of medical intervention may be needed.
- Diastolic Pressure: The diastolic reading, or the bottom number, measures the pressure in your arteries when the heart is at rest (between beats), filling with blood and oxygen. You want your diastolic pressure to be lower than 80. If your number is consistently higher than 80, there may be cause for concern and your doctor should be consulted.
What is High Blood Pressure: Getting an Accurate Reading
Before you can determine how to lower blood pressure, it’s important to get an accurate reading—which can be tougher than you may think.
To get an accurate blood pressure reading, it’s important to:
- Sit in a chair with back support
- Rest your arm on a table
- Put both feet on the floor
- Relax and refrain from talking
If, like me, you monitor your blood pressure at home, you may notice that your blood pressure is sometimes higher in the morning. This can be normal and is often a result of an increased amount of cortisol in your blood during the morning hours.
If you’re expecting to have an especially stressful day, worrying about it during the night can also be a cause of higher than average blood pressure readings during the morning hours. In fact, most heart attacks occur in the morning.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
What’s especially troubling about high blood pressure is that you can have it and not even know it—which is why it is often called the “silent killer.” For example, headaches and a hot flushed feeling in the face are common high blood pressure symptoms, but are often attributed to something else.
If you’re a woman, the confusion about high blood pressure symptoms can be even greater because the symptoms can be different than they are for a man. Common high blood pressure symptoms for women include fatigue and nausea, yet I know many women who would find these symptoms easy to ignore. Doing so is a big mistake.
Research suggests one in four women has high blood pressure and more women die of it each year than men. This is largely because women have smaller blood vessels in the heart (making it more difficult for them to maintain healthy blood pressure)—and women in their menopause years are especially vulnerable to high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, here are 6 secrets to lowering your blood pressure naturally.
Secret #1: Eat Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
If you adopt my Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet, I guarantee you’ll be taking a giant stride toward maintaining healthy blood pressure. This diet is full of fresh, healthy foods that will work wonders—not only for your blood pressure, but also for your overall health.
There are a few foods I’m going to mention here because they are superstars when it comes to getting your numbers in a healthy blood pressure range.
- Natto: This cheese-like soy product helps to lower blood pressure naturally because it helps to prevent blood clotting. You can find natto in most Asian grocery stores, and some health food stores also carry it. One note of caution: You should not eat natto if you’re taking a blood thinner, like Coumadin (warfarin), because it could make your blood too thin.
- Apples: I tell everyone who wants to know how to lower blood pressure naturally to eat apples (organic is best). It’s true, an apple a day really can keep the doctor the away and much of that is due to apples being a great source of quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid that is quickly absorbed into your system and attacks free radicals, supports veins, and lowers blood pressure naturally.
- Onions & Garlic: Multiple studies have shown the amazing effects both onions and garlic can have on your blood pressure. Onions are a great source of blood pressure-lowering quercetin, while garlic helps to thin the blood and contains a healthful compound called allicin to benefit blood pressure as well.
- Crushed Flaxseed: Flaxseed is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids that are key to getting your numbers in a healthy blood pressure range. I recommend you enjoy crushed flaxseed, as opposed to flaxseed oil, because you’ll be getting extra fiber and plant lignans.
- Dark Chocolate: I eat dark chocolate at least once a week, but no more than one ounce at a time. Not only does it taste great, it’s one of the foods that lowers blood pressure. You see, dark chocolate comes from the seed of the cocoa tree and is full of powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage and support healthy blood pressure.
- Blueberries: Because of their remarkable antioxidant properties and high flavonoid content, eating blueberries is a great way to get healthy blood pressure. Blueberries also contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoid pigments shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. British researchers discovered that people with the highest intake of anthocyanins had an eight percent reduction in blood pressure compared to those with the lowest intake. This makes blueberries a good choice amongst the foods that lower blood pressure.
Secret #2: Take Blood Pressure Supplements
Are you willing to go the extra mile to help ensure a healthy blood pressure? If so, there are four specific blood pressure supplements I recommend you consider:
- Hawthorn: One of the most powerful blood pressure supplements, hawthorn helps to lower blood pressure by preventing angiotensin 2 production, which is a blood vessel constrictor that raises blood pressure. Dosage: 500 mg, 2 to 3 times daily.
- Magnesium: This important nutrient helps to regulate heart health, reduces arrhythmias, and lowers blood pressure. Dosage: 200 to 400 mg daily.
- CoQ10: Studies show that taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can help to reduce elevated blood pressure by promoting cell health and making cells less vulnerable to constriction because CoQ10 supports endothelial function. Dosage: 200 to 300 mg daily.
- DHA Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: Research shows DHA omega-3 essential fatty acids help to maintain a healthy blood pressure range. Dosage: 300 to 800 mg daily.
Secret #3: Exercise
There are many reasons why I recommend exercise when people ask me how to lower blood pressure naturally.
For starters, exercise causes the amount of stress hormones in your blood to decrease, which leads to healthy blood pressure. Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, and we know that carrying extra weight makes it difficult for your heart to push the blood through the fat that resides in your blood vessels. Plus, exercise relaxes your blood vessels and makes it easier for your blood to circulate.
What is the best exercise for you? It’s often said the best exercise is the one that you’ll do, and I agree. I just suggest that you start out slowly and that you consult with your doctor if it has been a while since you have exercised or if you have any concerns.
If you’re just starting to exercise again, I recommend walking and dancing, two activities that you can control by stopping or starting when you feel the need to do so.
If you don’t enjoy walking or dancing, please just find some activity that you enjoy and do your best to do it at least 30 minutes a day. What you do isn’t nearly as important as creating a routine that keeps you active and moving every day. That’s how you’ll achieve a healthy blood pressure.
Secret #4: Detoxify
Sadly, toxins are everywhere. Thousands have been found in our household products, cosmetics, the air we breathe, and even in our food and water. These impurities flood our systems with free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress, a known cause of high blood pressure.
So, if you can help your body detoxify, you’ll get closer to the healthy blood pressure you desire.
How do you detoxify? For starters, adjust your grocery list to include as many “pesticide-free” items as possible (buying organic when available is a great idea). Second, don’t smoke and do all you can to avoid cigarette smoke. Third, get moving. Exercise (which we’ve already discussed) will not only help you lose weight, but it can also allow you to sweat the toxins out of your system.
My favorite way to sweat, in addition to exercise, is to use a far infrared sauna. I personally use a sauna whenever I do my home exercise routine of stretching, lifting light weights, and doing yoga poses. (For more information on saunas, you can go to www.hightechhealth.com. That’s where I got mine.) The magic of the far infrared sauna is that it promotes vibratory activity beneath the skin that allows heavy metals and petrochemicals to escape through our sweat.
Secret #5: Lower Your Stress—Mind & Body
It’s no secret that constant stress and emotional upheaval make it very difficult for you to obtain or maintain healthy blood pressure. This is because stress triggers your sympathetic nervous system, thus rushing adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. This, in turn, constricts your blood vessels, accelerates your heart rate, and increases your blood pressure.
So, relax, do whatever you can to take the pressure off, and just breathe. You know better than I what will do that for you, but I have one thing to suggest that most people find fun and easy to do—get outdoors.
Research has found that communing with Mother Nature for at least 30 minutes every week can calm your system and promote mental balance. And, while you’re at it, I suggest taking your shoes off and letting your feet touch the ground. This practice is called “grounding” and it’s been proven to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
Other ways to reduce stress and, in turn, help ensure healthy blood pressure include yoga and meditation. Multiple studies have shown that yoga can reduce the need for high blood pressure medications, making it a top choice for how to lower blood pressure naturally.
Meditation has been found to reduce systolic pressure by 4.7 points, and diastolic pressure by 3.2 points, in about eight weeks. These numbers are significant, which is why medication is one of my top recommendations for stress reduction and healthy blood pressure.
Secret #6: Drink Water
Staying hydrated can play an important role in lowering your blood pressure naturally.
When you don’t drink enough water, your body will fight back by holding onto sodium. This increased presence of sodium can make it difficult for you to naturally lower your blood pressure.
Plus, when you’re dehydrated, your body shuts down some of your capillaries, which puts more pressure on those capillaries that remain, as well as on your arteries. When this happens, your blood pressure rises.
If you’re wondering how to lower blood pressure, I recommend that you drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of filtered water every day. Start out slowly—you don’t want to overwork your kidneys. Plus, talk with your doctor if you have congestive heart failure or kidney disease. These health issues weaken your kidneys, so you may need to be extra careful about increasing your water intake.
There you have it: Six ways you can eliminate high blood pressure symptoms and lower your blood pressure naturally. I hope you’ll consider all of them, and implement the ones that you think will work best for you. Your blood pressure is depending on it.