Employee Wellness: How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
Many all over the world have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is measured by 2 numbers: the systolic and diastolic pressure. The systolic number, or top number, measures the pressure inside of your arteries when your heart is beating. The diastolic, or bottom number, measures the pressure inside of your arteries when your heart rests in between beats.
How to Interpret Your Blood Pressure Reading:
Blood Pressure Category
Systolic Blood Pressure
Diastolic Blood Pressure
Hypertension Stage 1
Hypertension Stage 2
> 140 mmHg
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious consequences such as heart attack and heart failure. High blood pressure can cause damage to arteries, making them less elastic which can decrease the amount of blood and oxygen reaching your heart.
Hypertension can also lead to stroke, brain issues, and kidney disease if left untreated. You can find out your blood pressure reading by visiting your doctor, or, you can use an at home blood pressure monitor.
But did you know there are many changes you can make to help regulate your blood pressure, naturally? Let’s take a look!
Foods to Focus on Increasing:
1. Plant foods
Plant foods, such as fruit and vegetables offer many profound benefits. For example, these foods are low in sodium, which is a contributing factor to elevated blood pressure. In addition, plant foods contain fiber, which helps to lower blood pressure. The DASH Diet, a diet for reducing hypertension, encourages 4-5 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily. When implemented, this diet has resulted in notable decreases in blood pressure. Find DASH-friendly recipes here.
2. Magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium has been shown to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, notably in those who suffer from insulin resistance, prediabetes, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, a meta-analysis found that supplementing magnesium significantly improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans and dark chocolate.
3. Potassium-rich foods
Potassium has been recommended as a preventative measure in addition to a treatment option for those who suffer from hypertension. Potassium assists the kidneys in ridding excess sodium from the body. It also assists in overall vascular function. Potassium-rich foods include potatoes, coconut water, avocadoes, cantaloupe and kiwi.
Foods to Focus on Decreasing:
1. High sodium foods
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for sodium is 2300 mg. Lowering sodium intake to 1500 mg could reduce blood pressure even more. Consistently exceeding this amount of sodium intake each day can contribute to a rise in blood pressure. Cooking meals at home is a great option as restaurant foods as well as packaged foods typically contain higher amounts of sodium. If you suffer from hypertension, you may want to begin label-reading in order to avoid consuming packaged foods with high amounts of sodium. Some foods that are worth reviewing are boxed foods, canned foods, cereals, snacks, granola bars, condiments, sweets and more.
2. Animal products
Animal products contain high amounts of sodium as well as saturated fat, two contributing factors to hypertension. If you struggle with high blood pressure, you may want to consider swapping your steak, sausage or pork for some plant-based proteins. Some of those plant proteins include beans, peas, lentils and tofu.
3. High sugar foods
We all know table sugar is not the energizer of the body. When looking to lower blood pressure, it is important to understand that excess sugar plays a role in raising blood pressure. If you suffer from hypertension, you may want to begin label-reading in order to avoid consuming packaged foods with added sugars. Some foods that are worth reviewing are boxed foods, canned foods, cereals, snacks, granola bars, condiments, sweets and more.
Taking actions towards reducing blood pressure is important in order to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and death. Blood pressure can be managed by any or all of these options. Check with your doctor to see if these options could be right for you.
Written by: Ashley Siuda, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern