High blood pressure is a serious condition even though you may have high blood pressure and feel just fine. Don’t be deceived. That’s why high blood pressure has the nickname the ‘silent killer’.
Here are five ways to lower high blood pressure by making dietary changes right now:
1. Decrease sodium intake
Sodium plays a role in fluid balance within the body. This is why there is a direct relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake to 2.3 grams per day is connected to lower blood pressure levels.
The first step in reducing your sodium intake is to remove the salt shaker from the table. Experiment with spices and herbs for added flavor instead of salt. The second step is to cut back on processed foods in your diet.
2. Boost potassium intake
Potassium works to lower blood pressure because it balancing out the sodium in your system. Eating a diet rich in potassium has been shown to lower systolic (top number) blood pressure ~4.4 mm Hg and diastolic (bottom number) ~2.5 mm Hg.
Aim for 4.7 grams of potassium daily.
Good sources of potassium include bananas, potatoes, cantaloupe, dates, nuts, legumes, oranges, cantaloupe, and green leafy vegetables.
3. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a very effective meal plan to lower blood pressure. The diet is high in fruits and vegetables, including 4-5 vegetable servings and 4-5 fruit servings everyday.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber and phytonutrients essential to heart health and promotion of a lower blood pressure. The more the better
4. Limit amount of alcohol consumed
Alcohol intake should be no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Consumption higher than this level can cause blood pressure to rise.
One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. If you consume more alcohol than the recommended amounts, work to cut back. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start!
5. Cut back on caffeine
The impact of caffeine on blood pressure levels continues to be debated. However, if you have high blood pressure I say error on the side of caution. Drinking a caffeinated beverage causes blood pressure to temporarily spike.
You can ‘test’ your reaction to caffeine. Take your blood pressure prior to consuming a caffeinated drink and 30 minutes after consumption. If your blood pressure is elevated five to ten points you likely react to the caffeine.
Limit caffeine to less than 200 milligrams per day.
There are more ways to lower blood pressure than the five I’ve listed above. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change all your dietary habits at once. Set 1-2 goals to tackle and then add more as you go.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.