Longevity studies offer a clear equation. The lower your blood pressure, the longer you live; and the higher your blood pressure, the shorter you live. Unfortunately, one in three Americans have high blood pressure – blood pressure 140/90 (or higher). At age 65, 75% of women have high blood pressure, and 65% of men have high blood pressure. Worse, as we grow older, the risk rises. We are more prone to develop high blood pressure with each decade of our lives.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer. It causes increased strokes, increased heart attacks, increased organ failures, and increased dementia. Physicians treat high blood pressure with antihypertensive medications. There are around 20+ different medications, but they all cause side effects, including headaches, vision problems, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia. Some studies warn that antihypertensive medications cause a higher risk, not a lower risk, of strokes and heart attacks.
What can we do? We can take control of our own blood pressure. We can move away from antihypertensive medications with the correct adjustments in our eating style, exercise program, and lifestyle. As a starting point, here are 10 ways to lower your blood pressure without any medications.
- Buy an automatic blood pressure monitor and use it weekly
- Increase salads in your diet – with leafy vegetables daily
- Snack on fruits, between meals, several times each day
- Add nuts and seeds to all salads and meals
- Limit salt – and remove salt shaker from the table
- Limit sugar with reduced soda drinks and fewer desserts
- Eat more fish, less red meat, and low-fat dairy products
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Power walk daily for 30-60 minutes
- Meditate daily 15-30 minutes
If you can make these dietary changes and incorporate more exercise, you should lose 5% of your current body weight. Better yet, with these dietary and exercise changes, you should stay at the lower weight – not bouncing back higher. With the improved nutrients from these foods, your blood vessels should become wider and more flexible. Lastly, if you can also reduce your stress, your blood pressure should drop even further, back toward the target BP 120/70.
For your dietary changes, if you need more specificity, I would purchase the below list of items from your grocery store on a regular basis. These items all have nutrients that help to lower blood pressure. The more of these items you eat, the lower your blood pressure. Yes, dietary and exercise habits are difficult to develop. But it is your last 20% of effort that leads to 80% of your success.
- Salmon / tilapia / tuna / mackerel
- Potatoes / sweet potatoes (baked, not fries)
- Beans / soybeans / kidney beans
- Seeds / flaxseed / sunflower seeds
- Leafy greens / kale / arugula / spinach
- Red bell peppers
- Dried fruit (prunes / raisins)
- Dark chocolate (80% cacao)
- Olive Oil
- Hibiscus tea
- Cranberry juice
- Non-fat milk
- Low fat yogurt
- Garlic and herbs
Good luck toward a healthier and longer life …