- Listen to soothing music: Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies.
- Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work situations in general, are linked to high blood pressure.
January 27, 2017
Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – Part 2
Part 2 of 3 parts
6. Learn to Manage Stress. Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure. When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthy food, which can negatively affect blood pressure. Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help lower blood pressure.
Here are two evidence-based tips to try:
Tip: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.
7. Eat Dark Chocolate or Cocoa. Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind. While eating massive amounts of chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.
That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate. A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure.
For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Tip: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contains plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
8. Lose Weight. If you’re overweight, losing weight can make a big difference for your heart health. According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure. In previous studies, losing 17 pounds (7.7 kg) was linked to lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg.
To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg.
The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise. Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Tip: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even greater when you exercise.
9. Quit Smoking. Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease. Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels.
Surprisingly, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because smokers develop a tolerance over time.
Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help reverse that risk.
Tip: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.
10. Cut Added Sugar and Refined Carbs. There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar and high blood pressure. In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less than one soda per day.
Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure. And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour, convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems.
Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure. One study on people undergoing statin therapy found that those who went on a six-week, carb-restricted diet saw a greater improvement in blood pressure and other heart disease markers than people not on a diet.
Tip: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may help reduce your levels.