6 ways to lower your blood pressure—naturally
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Michigan, but it is also one of the most preventable. You can help control your blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease with healthier habits and a few small lifestyle changes. Here are six ways to get you started:
- Skip caffeine. Coffee has many great health benefits, but lowering blood pressure just isn’t one of them. Caffeine can actually cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension. Try loading up on other energy boosting foods like blueberries, eggs and nuts to keep yourself fueled and focused.
- Start moving. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, meaning it doesn’t work as hard to pump blood. Try to get a hearty (pun intended) dose of cardio for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Tip: Increase your speed, incline or distance to give your heart a better workout.
- Be salt smart. Cutting sodium means more than going easy on the saltshaker. Sprinkling salt on your meal adds up to only 15 percent of sodium in the typical American diet, which means it’s time to start checking labels on packaged food and drinks like soup, frozen dinners and ready-to-eat cereals.
- Load up on bananas. A diet that includes natural sources of potassium is important in controlling blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. Start snacking on bananas—each one has around 450 milligrams of potassium.
- Relax with music. Listening to soothing songs for 30 minutes can center your breathing and bring your blood pressure down if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
- Add cayenne pepper. Arguably one of the fastest foods to lower blood pressure, cayenne pepper is a powerful vasodilator, which means it helps expand blood vessels and improve blood flow. This effect naturally lowers blood pressure levels by increasing the rate at which blood flows throughout the circulatory system, which in turn takes some of the pressure off arterial walls. Tip: Mix one or two teaspoons of cayenne pepper in warm water or tea with both honey and aloe vera to make a powerful homemade remedy for alleviating hypertension.
Photo credit: ksablan