One easy way to control and lower high blood pressure is through diet. Add the right foods to your diet and lower your blood pressure naturally and reduce the not so beneficial ones.
Lower High Blood Pressure with These Diet Tips
You can get started with a way to lower high blood pressure levels naturally starting with your next meal!
Here’s how to get started:
1. Add A Healthy Amount of Salt – and Drink More Water
There are two numbers you need to know when it comes to salt intake – 2,300 and 1,500 mg/day.
The first number is the highest recommended salt intake given by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. The other number is what you should strive to achieve.
What do you think your intake currently is? If you’re like many people, it’s probably anywhere between 3,300 and 4,200 mg per day – but it could even be higher than that because sodium is in so many products we consume.
- What Happens When You Eat Too Much Salt?
Your kidneys process the salt that you take in and if you take in more than your kidneys can process, it causes fluid pressure to build up against your artery walls, which spikes your blood pressure.
If this happens often enough over time, your blood vessel walls get thicker to handle the pressure being exerted against it. This narrows your arteries, which eventually hurts your heart because it has to work even harder to try to push the blood flow through your body.
It’s tough to start out reducing your salt intake. Foods will initially taste as if they’re not salted enough. My mother didn’t think she added too much salt, but now she has reduced it, so many foods taste too salty to her! After a while your salt cravings will lessen and eventually you’ll regain the taste of the original food flavors, where the addition of salt seems excessive to you, even in small amounts.
- Your Body Needs Salt!
Your body needs some salt, so don’t go to extremes and eliminate it completely. Reduction and moderation are key to improved blood pressure readings when it comes to sodium.
Start reading labels to see what volume of sodium is included. Items like processed deli meats are packed with salt. You’ll also find it in places you’d never expect to see salt – like an over the counter antacid!
If you think you might be somewhat of a salt addict, then start out by lowering your intake to the maximum level allowed and then work your way down to a more moderate intake over time.
As you read previously, your kidneys are what help you manage the salt your body takes in through the foods that you eat. In order to function properly, your kidneys need a lot of water throughout the day to operate in a healthy manner.
- Drink Water
Take a break from sodas and other drinks and start consuming more water throughout your day. Drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller, and sip on it whenever you feel thirsty. If you start to feel thirsty…you’re already dehydrated…so sip before you do.
2. Add Plenty of Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium Rich Foods
You want to take a multi-pronged approach to ensure you get enough potassium, magnesium and calcium in your diet. Let’s cover each one individually so that you can see how it affects blood pressure and how you can add it into your diet.
It’s advised that you take in 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day. Potassium is what counters the effects of salt in your body. How can you get more of this into your food plan?
Choose these foods that are rich in potassium to lower high blood pressure:
- Potatoes (sweet and other types)
- Greens (spinach, mustard, collard, or turnip for example)
- Yogurt (go with a low fat or fat free option)
- Fish (tuna or halibut are good options)
- Melons (honeydew or cantaloupe)
- Fruit (apricots, oranges, prunes and grapefruits or their juice counterparts)
- Raisins or dates
- Tomatoes (low sodium if you’re adding it via sauce or juice options)
- Beans (lima or green)
- Milk (only skim or low fat)
Can you overdo it on potassium? Only if you’re elderly or have kidney issues. Steer clear of potassium supplements unless your doctor prescribes them. They can be harmful to people suffering from specific medical conditions.
Let’s move on to magnesium. This mineral is thought to help with lowering blood pressure, too. Many of the same foods that contain a lot of potassium also have an ample amount of magnesium in them. Adults should take anywhere from 310 to 420 mg per day of magnesium.
Magnesium rich foods
Here are some you should add into your diet in addition to the ones already on your potassium list previously.
- Cashews or almonds
- Black Eyed peas
- Kidney beans.
Moving on to calcium, you’ll notice that many of the items listed in the potassium and magnesium lists also deliver an abundance of calcium to your diet. Studies show that you should add approximately 1,000 mg of calcium each day to improve blood pressure readings.
Calcium rich foods
In addition to the yogurt, milk, leafy green, orange juice and soybeans already found on the two previous lists (which are rich in calcium), here are a few others to add to your daily food plan.
- Cheese (low fat or skim)
- Calcium fortified foods such as cereals, breads or soymilk.
3. Increase Fruits and Vegetables to Lower High Blood Pressure and Reduce Sugar
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, many have already been listed previously for you. They’re full of fiber and lots of nutritious elements that contribute to the process of lowering your high blood pressure.
Sugar is just as much a culprit in boosting your blood pressure as salt is. Try cutting back on sodas. Studies show that even cutting out 6 ounces (that’s half a can) from your consumption of sodas has a positive effect on your blood pressure.
Scientists haven’t yet nailed the exact reason why sugar contributes to increased blood pressure readings, but it could be because sugar causes your body to hold onto salt, and salt has a direct effect on your hypertension diagnosis.
Try cutting back on sugar to see what kind of effect it has on your own personal blood pressure readings. Switch to dietary sugar options or just moderate your consumption of sugar. Sugar cravings are hard to deal with, but try to eliminate sugar completely!
4. Increase Your Fiber Intake
People who don’t eat enough fiber often suffer from diabetes and heart disease. Alternatively, those who up their fiber intake see a reduction in high blood pressure numbers.
Not all fiber is the same – there’s soluble and insoluble fiber (soluble dissolves in water, but insoluble absorbs the water). You need both in your diet. Studies have shown that your systolic (top number) blood pressure can be reduced by eating more insoluble fiber (like whole wheat or brown rice), and the diastolic, bottom number was lowered with any type of fiber additions.
Soluble fiber is found in barley and oats, fruit (both dried and fresh), and legumes. Insoluble fiber can be taken in through the addition of whole grains and wheat foods – as well as some vegetable choices.
So for this step, don’t look at what has to be cut out of your diet – look at what you can add to your daily meals.
- Fresh vegetables
- Brown rice.
While you want to make fast changes to lower high blood pressure readings, adding too much fiber too soon to your diet may cause you to suffer an upset stomach. People have reported bloating whenever they have upped their fiber intake dramatically.
5. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
When it comes to alcohol intake, the key is simple moderation. For healthy blood pressure readings, stick to just 1 alcoholic drink per day for women and 2 for men.
Blood pressure is affected by alcohol in short spikes and over a long period of time. If you drink 3 or more alcohol-laden drinks in one sitting, you’ll see a short spike. Long-term binge drinkers see a steady increase in their hypertension.
People suffering from high blood pressure ideally should eliminate alcohol completely.
It’s not good to drink high caloric alcohol drinks if weight is an issue for you either. Excess weight is another contributing factor to high blood pressure.
What kind of change can you expect when you reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake? A couple of digits will be lowered (1-4), but much of that depends on what level of consumption you had as well as your age and other factors.
What About Meat?
If you eat meats like beef and chicken, then make sure you go for lean cuts to help lower high blood pressure levels. They may cost a little more, but that balances out as you shouldn’t be eating a huge platter of meat when trying to lower blood pressure. A small 5-ounce filet mignon plated with plenty of vegetables and whole grain rice is a perfect pairing.
Again, any foods in moderation is the key to optimum health.
I hope you have found these five diet tips to lower high blood pressure helpful. You can use natural ways to lower your high blood pressure levels…many people have…it’s just a matter of following a few healthy rules! You can even use herbs to lower high blood pressure.