Do you have high blood pressure? As blood circulates through the blood vessels, it creates pressure. While some pressure is normal and even beneficial, too much lead to serious diseases like heart disease and kidney failure. Therefore, you must make the appropriate lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure. Otherwise, you could experience these or other related diseases.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is defined by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a systolic reading of 130 or higher and/or a diastolic reading of 80 or higher. Granted, it’s normal for a person’s blood pressure to fluctuate. If you just finished running or cycling, for example, you may experience a high systolic or diastolic reading. But if you have high blood pressure for a prolonged period — meaning it doesn’t lower back to a normal level — you should take action to control your blood pressure.
Add Garlic to Your Diet
You may notice an improvement in your blood pressure if you include garlic in your diet. A study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom found that people who consumed garlic experienced lower blood pressure than their counterparts in the control group who were given a placebo.
Choose Whole Grains Instead of Refined Grains
Swap out refined grains in your diet for whole grains. Refined grains are characterized by heavy processing that strips out many of their beneficial nutrients, including the bran and germ, whereas whole grains are left whole, with the bran the germ intact. As a result, refined grains last longer and don’t succumb to spoilage as quickly as whole grains. The problem with refined grains, however, is that they lack the nutritional value of their whole counterparts. When compared to refined grains, whole grains have more dietary fiber, vitamins, iron and other nutrients, many of which play a role in healthy blood pressure.
Exercising on a regular basis can also have a positive effect on your blood pressure. The AHA even recommends performing up to 150 minutes of cardio or aerobic exercise per week to ward off heart disease. When you exercise — especially when you perform cardio or aerobic exercise — your heart rate will increase. Over time, your heart will become stronger from the increased heart rate attributed to exercising, allowing it to pump blood throughout your body using less force or pressure. As a result, you can expect your blood pressure to drop. The Mayo Clinic even says that for some people exercise alone is enough to achieve a lower blood pressure, eliminating the need for prescription medication.
Eat More Fish
Arguably, the best food with which to combat high blood pressure is fish — especially oily, fatty varieties of fish like salmon and mackerel. Fish contains natural oils with high concentrations of beneficial fats known as omega-3 fats or fatty acids. Not to be confused with saturated fat, the omega-3 fats founds in fish are actually good for your health. Studies have shown that people who consume lots of fish and other omega-3-rich foods in their diet are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease than people who consume few or no omega-3s in their diet.
Eat More Bananas
Another food that may lower blood pressure is bananas. Research cited by HuffPost suggests that eating two bananas per day reduces blood pressure by an average of 10%. This is because bananas contain potassium that, when consumed, helps to neutralize the water-retaining effects of sodium. You can eat other potassium-rich foods to lower your blood pressure, but bananas are particularly effective because they contain roughly 420 milligrams of potassium each — a far higher concentration than with other foods.
Get Your ZZZs
Sleep is essential to keeping your blood pressure levels in check. When you get restful sleep at night, you’ll experience more balanced and harmonized hormone activity in your body. When you don’t get restful sleep at night, on the other hand, your body’s hormones will become imbalanced. Your body will respond to this lack of sleep, for example, by producing more cortisol. Dubbed the “stress hormone,” cortisol can cause or contribute to high blood pressure. As your cortisol levels increase, so will your blood pressure. Conversely, though, working to lower your cortisol levels can, in turn, lower your blood pressure.
Control Your Stress
You might be surprised to learn that severe or prolonged stress is a contributing factor to high blood pressure. Stress has similar effects as lack of sleep, encouraging elevated levels of cortisol in your body. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all instances of stress. However, you should be conscious of your stress levels while making changes to your lifestyle to stay relaxed. If you are relaxed, your body won’t produce as much cortisol, so you’ll have an easier time keeping your blood pressure under control.
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