There are many ways to control your blood pressure, including dietary overhauls and medication. I don’t like taking pills if I don’t have to, so natural ways to keep my blood pressure in check are ideal. This is vital because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack, so keeping your numbers in the normal range is an important health step you need to take. Making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle are great ways to control your blood pressure.
1. Exercise More
You’ve heard it a million times. Exercise offers so many health benefits, you can’t really get away without it. Besides preventing diseases and controlling your weight, a consistent workout schedule can also keep your blood pressure in the healthy range. Make sure you choose an activity you like so you’re more likely to stick with it. Walking, biking and swimming are great choices. Aim for 30 minutes per day as one of the best ways to control your blood pressure.
2. Lose Weight
Not only does carrying excess pounds contribute to high blood pressure, but many of the foods that play a role in weight gain are high in sodium and fat, which is another factor in unhealthy cholesterol levels. Often, shedding that extra weight can bring your blood pressure back into a healthy range. Increase your exercise routine and cut calories from your diet for successful weight loss.
3. Eat Healthy Foods
Healthy foods protect your health in many ways, so it pays to eat a variety of foods from each food group. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. This helps you control your fat and calorie intake, which keeps you at a healthy weight. Keep a food diary, which holds you personally accountable for taking action toward controlling your blood pressure.
4. Control Your Sodium Intake
Most Americans eat too much salt. I’m guilty too, but it tastes so good on popcorn, eggs and baked potatoes. Sometimes I put more than I should on my food. It’s vitally important to reduce your sodium intake if your blood pressure is too high. In addition to cutting back on what you sprinkle on your food, cut back on restaurant meals, fast food and processed meats, all of which are typically very high in salt.
5. Get More Potassium
Potassium is a nutrient that helps control your blood pressure, so deficiencies are detrimental to your heart health. In fact, too little potassium can lead to a heart attack. Most fruits and vegetables contain potassium, but potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, leafy greens and squash are particularly good options. If you still worry you’re not getting enough, talk to your doctor about a supplement.
6. Stop Smoking
Lighting up can raise your blood pressure, so kicking this nasty habit is one way to get your blood pressure under control. In addition, stopping smoking protects you from other health problems, including lung cancer and emphysema. If you can’t go cold turkey, consider smoking cessation products to help you on the way.
7. Cut Back on Alcohol
Small amounts of alcohol, a drink or so each day, can actually help lower blood pressure, but more than that and it could cause your numbers to creep up. If you take medication for your blood pressure, alcohol can hinder its effectiveness. Taper off the amount you drink until you’re down to just one alcoholic beverage per day. If you find yourself having trouble quitting, talk to your doctor about interventions that can help.
Do you have high blood pressure? These steps aren’t always easy ones to take, but you won’t regret making the choice to protect your health now and in the future. Which one will you start with?