7 Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure Without Medication
Posted May 31, 2021
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a prevalent medical condition in which people experience elevated blood pressure levels. High blood pressure itself is extremely dangerous because it may not cause any symptoms directly, but it is a major risk factor for some of the leading causes of death in the US – namely, heart disease and stroke.
Your diet is one of the most significant contributors to blood pressure. While many adjustments can be made to one’s diet to decrease blood pressure, one of the most impactful is incorporating more protein. A 2014 study showed that people who ate more protein had a lower risk of high blood pressure, averaging a 40% lower risk for those consuming approximately 100 grams of protein per day. Those who added regular fiber also had up to a 60% reduction in risk.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has also been proven as an effective way to lower blood pressure. This eating plan emphasizes a balanced diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products to decrease blood pressure by up to 11 mm HG. You can learn more about the DASH diet here.
If you are overweight or obese, losing a few pounds can make a drastic difference in your blood pressure levels. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, losing just 5 pounds can reduce your blood pressure by several mm Hg on both diastolic and systolic numbers. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight once it is reached will help control your blood pressure in the future.
Taking part in aerobic activity is one of the most important things you can do to improve your cardiovascular health. Cardio exercise helps to strengthen your heart and blood vessels, improve the flow of oxygen in your body, and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, on top of numerous other benefits. While any form of exercise will aid in lowering high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends 30-minute moderate cardio sessions five times a week. This doesn’t have to be an intense run – a nice walk works just as well!
Alcoholic beverages generally cause blood pressure to rise, even in healthy people. With that in mind, it’s extremely important for those with high blood pressure to drink alcohol in moderation, or even consider cutting out alcohol altogether.
Heavy alcohol use, defined as more than 3 standard drinks a day in men and more than 2 standard drinks a day in women, can raise blood pressure by 5 to 10 mm Hg. People with high blood pressure should limit themselves to 1 standard drink a day at most to combat the negative effects of alcohol on their blood pressure, but eliminating alcohol entirely is shown to have the greatest positive effect.
Limit Sugar Intake
Other than the obvious effect of further reducing your waistline, limiting your sugar intake has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
In a recent study, researchers compared blood pressure changes in people who were eating either low-carb or low-fat diets. While both groups blood pressure lowered, the low-carb group, who had cut out refined sugars and carbohydrates, experienced a much greater reduction in blood pressure. The low-carb diet lowered blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg diastolic and 5.9 mm Hg systolic. The diet of low-fat lowered blood pressure by only 0.4 mm Hg diastolic and 1.5 mm Hg systolic.
Less Salt, More Potassium
While individuals respond to salt intake differently, high levels of sodium may cause increased blood pressure in those who are salt sensitive. If you have high blood pressure, it may be worth eliminating salt or following the previously mentioned DASH diet to see if less salt in your diet positively affects your blood pressure.
Regardless of your reaction to salt, adding potassium to your diet can aid your blood pressure levels. Potassium lessens the effects of salt on your body and reduces tension in your blood vessels. There are plenty of foods that naturally contain high levels of potassium, so adding some to your diet is easy!