Most of us know that exercise, along with weight and stress management, can help us control blood pressure. The following natural techniques can also help. Speak with your health care practitioner to determine which approach suits you.
Multiple studies have shown that people who increase potassium in their diet may experience a reduction in blood pressure. Katie Huston, RD, says this may be due to potassium causing the blood vessels to widen, or helping the body to excrete sodium.
Additionally, Hana Klimczak, RD, says, “People who are sensitive to salt intake increasing their blood pressure tend to also be sensitive to potassium decreasing it. Potassium may be more effective in lowering blood pressure in people who typically consume a lot of salt in their diet. Some studies showed the best results when sodium intake was decreased and potassium intake increased, compared to doing one or the other.”
Increasing potassium intake doesn’t mean a steady diet of bananas. You can also choose fruits and vegetables like
- sweet potatoes
Sniff out hidden sodium
Julia Stanislavskaia, RD, cautions that those low-sodium labels can be misleading. “Remember that most salt comes from packaged goods, and what you add during cooking makes up only about 10 percent of our salt consumption, so check the nutrition label so you’re choosing foods that have less than 200 mg of sodium per serving,” she says.
Huston notes that while reducing your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day has the greatest effect on lowering blood pressure, 2,000 to 2,300 mg per day may be more realistic for active individuals.
Stanislavskaia says cutting alcohol consumption causes an almost immediate reduction in blood pressure. Huston recommends a maximum of two standard drinks per day for men and one for women and smaller men. If you don’t currently drink, she doesn’t recommend you start.
Nosh on some fruit
In addition to the fact that many fruits contain potassium, some have also been associated with reducing blood pressure through other means. A pilot study found that the L-citrulline and L-arginine content in watermelon extract reduced some blood pressure parameters in obese people with prehypertension. Additionally, a 2015 study found that daily blueberry consumption lowered blood pressure and reduced arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- or stage 1 hypertension.
Reach for polyphenols
Some polyphenols—micronutrients found in a number of foods—have been shown to be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease. In particular, green tea has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure due to its polyphenol content. Additionally, cocoa has been found to lower blood pressure.
Watch your sleep
Ensuring you are getting enough sleep is great for overall health, and it could also have implications for your blood pressure. A 2009 study found that individuals with reduced sleep duration tended to have higher blood pressure. Huston says that individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea should ensure it is being treated effectively, as uncontrolled sleep apnea is correlated with raised blood pressure.