High blood pressure is a common health condition in the United States and it comes with a whole set of risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, complications of high blood pressure include heart attack or stroke, brain aneurysm, weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys, burst blood vessels in your eyes, and metabolic syndrome(1).
If you have high blood pressure, there’s a lot of reasons to want to get your blood pressure levels down. Here are some of the most common and effective ways people choose to manage their blood pressure naturally.
1. Cut The Salt
One of the most obvious decisions to make when you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure is to reduce your salt intake significantly. But is it really worth the effort?
According to one 2012 study, it definitely is. “Dietary salt intake reduction can delay or prevent the incidence of antihypertensive therapy, can facilitate blood pressure reduction in hypertensive patients receiving medical therapy, and may represent a simple cost-saving mediator to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” researchers conclude(2).
But maintaining that reduction can take a lot of willpower. Even foods that are low in sugar and fat can still contain a lot of sodium, so you need to check the ingredients on just about everything you consume – and eat a lot less fast food, too.
2. Drink Hibiscus Tea
If you’re mildly hypertensive or prehypertensive, there’s an all-natural remedy to help get your blood pressure back down to normal levels before it gets worse – and it’s as close at hand as your nearest tea or coffee shop. Hibiscus tea has been shown to lower blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive patients(3).
3. Take Fish Oil Supplements
Lots of people avoid eating fish because of the taste, and the effect it can have on your breath, but if you suffer from hypertension it could be well worth the adverse effects. There’s always the option of popping a few capsules of fish oil a day, according to experts.
According to one 2002 review, fish oil supplements may be especially effective in reducing blood pressure for older patients(6), so if you’re in or beyond middle-age, definitely consider eating more seafood or buying supplements.
4. Get Plenty Of Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can be the worst thing for your blood pressure levels, and exercise should be the number one thing on your list to look into changing (after diet, that is) when you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure.
“An increase in aerobic physical activity should be considered an important component of lifestyle modification for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure,” one analysis concludes(7).
If you’re wondering how much exercise is enough, it’s probably less than you think – check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, a project of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion(8).
5. Eat Plenty Of Fresh Produce
Maintaining a healthy and diverse diet is key to managing your blood pressure.
6. Try Hawthorn
When it comes to herbal supplements, there’s a lot of not so helpful pills on the market – but hawthorn is no joke.
“Clinical trials reviewed have been inconsistent in terms of criteria used… but have been largely consistent with regard to positive outcomes,” one paper states. The positive outcomes have to do mainly with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, but blood pressure is a major contributing factor as well(11).
You can take hawthorn supplements or drink it in a tea; dietary doses of hawthorn are all that’s needed.
7. Understand Your Condition
Understanding high blood pressure is key to managing it effectively.
“Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure,” the Mayo Clinic explains(12).
You can develop high blood pressure at any time in your life, although it’s more common the older you get, and you can have it for years before you notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood pressure tested regularly.