The symptoms of high blood pressure are rarely visible. But making these simple changes to your diet could contribute to keeping it in check.
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is often a silent, hidden condition. Many sufferers feel fine even when their readings are soaring. If your blood pressure is high or very high, medication will help. But if you’re looking for other complementary ways to reduce your blood pressure, healthy lifestyle changes could make an important difference.
But before we talk about some natural remedies for high blood pressure, let’s look at what’s happening to cause it.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure describes the pressure of blood in your arteries. A certain amount of pressure is normal and needed to propel your blood around your body. If you find your blood pressure fluctuates during the activities of a day, that’s normal too. What should cause a red flag, however, is if your blood pressure is persistently high even when you’re resting. This suggests your heart is being forced to work too hard to pump blood around your body.
The only way to confirm if your blood pressure is high, is with a doctor. They may diagnose hypertension, which is the medical term for consistently high blood pressure. It’s serious because it can increase the risk of heart problems, kidney disease, stroke and dementia. So, finding ways to reduce high blood pressure and maintain healthy levels is a priority.
When does blood pressure become ‘high’?
Blood pressure is measured in ‘mmHg’ (or millimetres of mercury.) The measurement comes in two numbers that represent the pressure inside your arteries. The bottom number refers to diastolic pressure – when your heart is resting between beats. The top figure is systolic pressure – when your heart beats and pushes blood out into your arteries. As a general guide, high blood pressure is a reading 140/90 mmHg or higher.
Blood pressure readings
Here’s a quick guide to blood pressure readings and their meanings:1
- 90/60 mmHg – Low blood pressure
- 149/90 mmHg – Normal
- 140/180 mmHg – Possible hypertension
- 180/110 mmHg – Severe hypertension
Whether you have high blood pressure or not, it’s suggested that you follow a diet and lifestyle that aims to keep you in the healthy range between 90/60 and 120/80. So, what are the ways of lowering blood pressure naturally?
Lowering blood pressure naturally
If your latest blood pressure reading has raised concerns, you’ll be interested in how to lower blood pressure. There are many factors that can cause high blood pressure. Medical conditions definitely contribute, but diet and lifestyle have a significant influence too. For example, drinking too much alcohol, eating too much salt, smoking, being overweight and not doing enough exercise can all increase your risk of getting high blood pressure.
Our natural remedies for high blood pressure, focus on six diet adjustments that can contribute to normal, healthy blood pressure.
Reduce salt intake
Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure in some. The maximum amount of salt advised for adults is 6g (around 1 teaspoon). To help keep to this recommended daily limit, don’t cook with salt or add extra salt to food. Processed foods also contain a lot of salt, so cutting back on ready meals is wise.2
Look for foods rich in potassium
Potassium reduces the effects of sodium. When you eat more potassium, you also lose more sodium through urine. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of potassium, especially sweet potatoes, greens, peas and bananas.3
Add beetroot to your diet
When it comes to foods to reduce blood pressure, you can’t beat beetroot. A British Heart Foundation study showed drinking a cup (250ml) of beetroot juice daily could significantly lower the blood pressure of people with hypertension.4 The nitrates in beetroot are the magic ingredient. But beware – because nitrates are water soluble, boiling your beets will reduce the beneficial effects. Roasting or juicing is best.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna and other oily fish are known as EPA and DHA. A daily dose of 3g supports normal, healthy blood pressure. If you’re not a fish fan, consider fish oil supplements.
Unfortunately for vegetarians, finding a proven substitute with the same effect is difficult. Studies suggest that although flaxseed oil and chia seeds are a source of Omega 3, they don’t have the same effect on lowering blood pressure as fish oil. However, the blood pressure reducing potential of algae products (such as spirulina) that’s emerging looks promising. Algae-based Omega-3 supplements containing DPA could be a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans.
Cut out caffeine
Current NHS guidance suggests 400mg as the upper daily limit for caffeine consumption.5,6 Above this level, studies suggest it may start to increase your blood pressure. Although coffee is the main culprit when it comes to high caffeine content, it’s found in many other foods and beverages including colas, tea, energy drinks and chocolate.
Follow a DASH eating plan
DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’.7,8 It’s an approach to healthy eating that’s specifically aimed to help lower your blood pressure. In particular, this encourages following correct portion sizes, reducing sodium in your diet and eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods. This includes:
- Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Avoiding or limiting foods that are high in saturated fat (e.g. fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils)
- Reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and sweet
So, are there foods that reduce blood pressure?
Diet isn’t a treatment for high blood pressure. However, a mindful, balanced diet can contribute to keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Last updated: 15 July 2020