High blood pressure is a serious concern, especially in the United States. In fact, Harvard conducted a study that revealed that over 15% of all the deaths in the U.S. are related to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions like stroke and heart attack, in addition to contributing to issues with just about every other system in the human body. What’s more disconcerting it the fact that more than 1 in 4 Americans have high blood pressure and they don’t even realize it (to ensure you’re not part of this statistic, get to the doctor if it’s been more than two years since your last visit).
There are plenty of medications you can take for lowering blood pressure, but many of those medications come with unwanted side effects. They can cause everything from insomnia to leg cramps. Here are some tips for lowering your blood pressure naturally, without any side effects.
This one shouldn’t be a surprise. Getting out and exercising will lower your blood pressure. Even a quick walk can lower your blood pressure thanks to your heart using oxygen more efficiently. The result is that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to get blood pumping through your body. If you’re not used to exercising, start off small with a gentle stroll to the end of the block and back. Then, increase your distance as you progress each week.
Focus On Your Breathing
You might be surprised to learn that breathing exercises can actually lower your blood pressure. Activities like yoga and tai chi tend to be accompanied by meditative breathing practices that help to decrease the hormones in your body that cause stress. Stress raises your blood pressure so the math it pretty clear. Decrease stress hormones and you’ll decrease your blood pressure.
Load Up On Potassium
Foods rich in potassium have been proven to lower blood pressure. So, on your next trip to the store, stock up on bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and dried fruits like raisins and prunes.
What About Dessert?
You still deserve to indulge occasionally, so you don’t have to skip dessert—just be smart about what you eat. If you’re a chocolate lover, try snacking on dark chocolate, as long as it is made of at least 70% cocoa. Half an ounce of dark chocolate each day has been shown to decrease blood pressure.
Be Smart With Booze
Alcohol is a bit of a slippery slope when it comes to blood pressure. Reducing alcohol consumption will lower blood pressure, but only to a point. It’s actually been shown that moderate drinking (1-2 drinks per day) can actually decrease your blood pressure more than not drinking at all. Remember, a “drink” equals one 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of hard liquor.