Left unchecked, high blood pressure can slowly damage your blood vessels, heart and eyes while simultaneously increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and kidney disease. The following tips will help to lower high blood pressure, or keep it from rising.

1. Every morning, take a brisk 15-minute walk

Amazingly, you don't need a lot of exercise to make a difference to your blood pressure.

When Japanese researchers asked 168 inactive volunteers with high blood pressure to exercise at a health club for different amounts of time each week for 8 weeks, blood pressure levels dropped almost as much in those who exercised for 30 to 90 minutes a week as in those who exercised for more than 90 minutes a week.

Push yourself to walk every day with this pedometer

 

 

2. Write ‘take medication’ on your calendar every day 

25 per cent of the time, when your blood pressure hasn't gone down after you've been prescribed medication, the reason is that you've forgotten to take your pills.

 

3. Buy a home blood-pressure kit 

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that home blood-pressure testing can provide a better overall picture of blood pressure levels than readings in a doctor's surgery. 

 

4. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of linseeds on your yogurt in the morning...

...and mix 2 tablespoons into your ice-cream, soup, pasta sauce or other food later in the day.

One small study found that adding 4 tablespoons of the seeds significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) in postmenopausal women with a history of heart disease.

Linseeds are rich in many nutrients and in fibre.

 

5. Drink tea instead of coffee 

An Australian study found that each 1-cup increase in daily tea consumption decreased systolic blood pressure by 2 points and diastolic pressure by 1 point. But the benefits ended after 4 cups.

 

6. Dip corn chips in guacamole

Why? Avocados have more blood pressure-lowering potassium than any other fruit or vegetable, including bananas.

We should get about 3500mg a day of potassium, but 1 in 3 women usually gets just half this amount.

 

7. Turn to dark chocolate when your sweet tooth asserts itself 

Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids that keep your arteries flexible, preventing the increases in pressure that come with stiffer blood vessels.

That's thought to be one reason for the normal blood pressure of a tribe of indigenous Panamanians who eat a high-salt diet but also consume massive amounts of cocoa.

Other good sources of flavonoids include tea and wine, as well as many fruits and vegetables.

 

8. Snack on soy nuts for a crunchy, nutrient-packed munch 

Studies show that people with high blood pressure can lower their systolic readings by an average of 10 points by eating 30g of soy nuts (roasted soybeans) a day for 2 weeks.

The beans are available at some supermarkets and health food shops. Make sure you buy them unsalted.

 

9. Flavour food with lots of pepper 

Why? Pepper is a strong, dominant flavour that can help you to reduce your taste for salt.

Without salt, meals may seem bland for a couple of days, but your taste buds can easily be retrained. If that doesn't appeal, try garlic, lemon, ginger, basil or other spicy flavours you enjoy.

 

10. Ask your doctor about the DASH diet 

The DASH diet is high in potassium and can be as effective as medication at lowering blood pressure.

Try dried apricots, fresh bananas and dark chocolate. A handful of dried apricots has concentrated amounts of potassium, fibre, iron and beta carotene while also being low in kilojoules.

 

11. Park in the Outer Mongolia of the car park 

All you need is an extra 4000 to 5000 steps a day and you could lower your blood pressure by 11 points.

That's what US researchers found when they tracked postmenopausal women.

 

12. Hold hands with your partner for 10 minutes 

That (plus a brief hug) is all it took in one study to keep blood pressure steady during a stressful incident.

 

13. Sleep with earplugs in tonight 

Studies suggest that being exposed to noise while you're sleeping may increase your blood pressure as well as your heart rate, so block out any noise.

 

14. Drink a glass of orange juice every morning and another at night 

One US study found that this lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 per cent and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 4.6 per cent–thanks to the high levels of potassium in orange juice.

 

15. Think about your sleep 

Are you waking up tired? Is your partner complaining that you snore a lot? Talk to your doctor. You may have sleep apnoea.

Studies find that half the people who have the condition, in which you stop breathing dozens or hundreds of times during the night, also have hypertension.

 

16. Find (and eliminate) at least one hidden source of salt a day 

For instance, did you know that many breakfast cereals contain salt? Who needs salt in their cereal? Find a brand that's salt-free.

 

17. Spend 5 minutes a day sitting in a quiet room repeating this mantra, ‘One day at a time’ 

Numerous studies show that meditation eases stress and lowers blood pressure. Other good mantras include: ‘This, too, shall pass’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Calm, calm, calm’.

 

18. Take these supplements daily:

Garlic, fish oil, calcium, CoQ10

All have blood pressure-lowering properties, but check with your doctor before taking them.

 

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