09 Jun 2022 • 4 min read
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.
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.1
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.
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.1
Here's a quick guide to blood pressure readings and their meanings.2,3
|70/40 mmHg||Low blood pressure|
|120/80 mmHg||Possible hypertension|
|140/90 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 120/80.4
So, what are the ways of 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.
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.5
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.6
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.7
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.
Current NHS guidance suggests 400mg as the upper daily limit for caffeine consumption.5
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.
DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’.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: 8
If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure naturally, limiting or completely removing alcohol from your diet may be able to help.
Various studies have found that high doses of alcohol lead to an increase in blood pressure, so it’s recommended to either avoid drinking it at all or stick to the guidelines of no more than 14 units per week, over three days or more.9,10,11
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna and other oily fish are known as EPA and DHA. A 2022 scientific research review concluded that a daily dose of around 2-3g is optimal for supporting normal, healthy blood pressure.12
But if you’re not a fish fan, it may be worth considering fish oil supplements instead.
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.
One study in particular highlighted that flaxseed only appears to lower blood pressure in people who are already hypertensive.13
However, the blood pressure reducing potential of algae products (such as spirulina) that’s emerging looks promising.14 Algae-based Omega-3 supplements containing DPA could be a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans.
Another type of supplement you may want to consider is garlic supplements. In fact, a meta-analysis from 2016 discovered that garlic supplements lowered systolic blood pressure by up to 5mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by up to 2.5mmHg in people with high blood pressure.15
In addition, opting for time-release garlic supplements may be more effective than the regular type – according to a study from 2009.16
Yep, that’s right! The protein that people often use as a supplement to an active lifestyle may also be able to help you lower your blood pressure.
One study from 2018 looked into this, and found that it may be able to reduce systolic blood pressure levels in people who already have hypertension.17
Similarly, magnesium may be able to help reduce high blood pressure. Another meta-analysis from 2013 found a link between high blood pressure and a magnesium deficiency, and that supplementation may be able to cause a small reduction in it.18
We all know that regular exercise is a key component of your overall health, but it can also impact blood pressure.
In fact, one particular study from 2013 explored this idea, concluding that aerobic exercise significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, in older sedentary adults.19
Likewise, resistance training may also be beneficial. A 2016 review looked into the effects of resistance training on people with metabolic syndrome and they found that it may have positive effects on systolic blood pressure.20
Much like how we need exercise to stay healthy, we also need to have good quality sleep most nights a week.
A 2017 study looked into the short and long term effects of sleep deprivation and one of the key findings was that it can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure.21
In order to get the best sleep at night, try to avoid napping so you don’t end up in a vicious circle of sleeping in the day to make up for a lack of sleep at night.22
Meditation is great for managing your stress levels and it can encourage you to pay attention to your breathing. But according to research from 2012, it may also have a positive impact on blood pressure too.23
If you find you neglect your own happiness in your everyday life, this may be having an effect on your blood pressure. For example, scientific research has found that listening to music that you enjoy everyday can contribute to lowering systolic blood pressure.24
Most of us know the dangers of smoking, and this applies to your blood pressure levels too. Studies have shown that both primary and secondhand smoking causes your blood pressure to increase straight away, but only temporarily.25,26
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.
We hope you’re feeling more confident about how to lower blood pressure naturally after reading our article. But if you have any further questions or you’d like some personalised advice, book an online consultation today to speak to one of our expert advisors.
Last updated: 9 June 2022