Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally

Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally

Blood pressure is the intensity with which blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) while the heart is beating (systolic pressure) and when the heart is resting (diastolic pressure). A blood pressure reading is written like a fraction and shows the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.

A healthy person has a blood pressure level lower than 120/80 mmHg. A person with high blood pressure or hypertension has a blood pressure level at or above 140/90 mmHg.

High blood pressure is dangerous because there are no symptoms; but if left untreated, it may lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. However, there is good news! Hypertension is highly preventable and can be treated by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition.

Nutrition Plan for Lowering Blood Pressure

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It helps reduce blood pressure by incorporating foods that are:

  • High in fruits and vegetables
  • Low in dairy, animal meat and saturated fat
  • High in nuts, seeds and beans
  • Low in snacks and sweets

Fruits and Vegetables

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake provides the body with minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help lower blood pressure.

Dairy

Decreasing dairy is encouraged because it can increase blood pressure however, yogurt may have the opposite effect. It contains a special protein, called Lactobacillus helveticus, which fights an enzyme known to cause high blood pressure. (Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reaction in the body).

Animal Meat and Saturated Fat

Including more protein from plant sources than animals can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. Studies have also shown that just 40 grams of soy protein a day can lower blood pressure by 7.88 mm Hg and diastolic by 5.27 mm Hg in people with hypertension. While soy is one healthy alternative, it should not be the only alternative. Try to incorporate protein from a variety of plants such as nuts, beans and vegetables.

Snacks and Sweets

Reducing the amount of saturated fats, cholesterol and simple sugars found in snacks and sweets can moderate inflammation and decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Other Dietary Considerations

Limit Salt
Consuming less than 2400 mg a day of salt (one tsp.) is ideal. Try to avoid foods rich in salt including: canned soups, broths, frozen dinners, chips, lunch meats, salad dressings, pizza, packaged mixes and foods eaten away from home.

Dark Chocolate

Incorporating dark chocolate may also lower blood pressure. An analysis of 5 randomized controlled trials showed that a daily dose of dark chocolate could reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.7 (+/- 2.9) mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 2.8 (+/- 2.0 mm Hg). When selecting your chocolate, be sure that it has at least 70% cocoa and always eat in moderation (10-30 grams daily) since chocolate is high in calories.

While exercise and weight loss are also key in managing blood pressure, studies have show that the DASH diet is a huge contributing factor. On average it lowers the systolic blood pressure 11.6 points and the diastolic blood pressure 5.3 points.

The following is a list of other super-foods, which may aid in lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk for heart disease:

  • Garlic (in food, not as a supplement) 1-2 cloves per day. Eating 10-15 minutes after crushing or chopping is most helpful.
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Green tea
  • Pomegranate
  • Blueberries
  • Cold water fish (salmon, sardines, herring, albacore tuna)
  • Nuts
  • Beans
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  • Laurie Birkholz, MD

    Laurie Birkholz, MD

    When Laurie Birkholz, MD, isn’t providing women’s health care at Lakeshore Health Partners, she enjoys the hiking trails and beaches in our community with husband, Eric, and their two daughters. Dr. Birkholz has a special interest in holistic health – focusing on all aspects of health-mind, body and spirit and their roles in continuing good health or returning to previous levels of health. From sexual health and cancer survivorship to nutrition and fitness counseling, Dr. Laurie helps women of all ages make their life a great life!

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    All blogs by Laurie Birkholz, MD

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