How to Improve Your Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure Advice
When you’re researching how to improve your blood pressure, you’re going to hear a lot about what to avoid, what to cut out of your diet, and what not to do.
That’s can get your healthy living off to a negative start, though, so I wanted to offer a number of “what to do” tips for lowering your blood pressure.
You probably already know that lowering your sodium intake is huge in lowering your blood pressure.
The steps below help to lower your sodium levels by taking some action and introducing low sodium foods into your diet to replace the standard high sodium foods you normally eat.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Eating produce is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure. Many fruits and vegetables that are low in sodium happen to be high in potassium, which is a good thing. Eat foods like tomatoes, oranges, bananas, baked potatoes (not french fries or tots), sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, spinach, winter squash, and beans.
Eat Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad. Adding “healthy fats” to your diet can be a good thing, if you’re replacing the bad fats with new sources of nutrition. Unstaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, are the good fats you’re looking for. Here’s a list of high-fat foods to look for.
- Olive Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Canola Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Corn Oil
- Macademia Nuts
- Peanut Butter
- Sunflower Seeds (watch out for the salt)
- Sesame Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
Long story short, eating lots of fish and nuts tend to be a good thing. Peanut butter is good to mix into your diet a few times a week. Cooking in healthy oils is important. Dipping your bread in olive oil with herbs is a much better option than butter or margarine, and once you get used to it, you’ll come to look forward to that part of your meal.
Eat Whole Grains Instead of Starches
Whole grains help you retain your potassium. Common whole grain products you’ll find at the grocery store include whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, popcorn, teff flour, rolled oats, triticale flour, and whole wheat flour. Refined-grain products are not as healthy as whole wheat and include non-wholewheat pasta, white flour, white bread, hominy, and white rice.
Reading the packages of whole wheat foods can get tricky or even deceptive at times. If the first ingredient says “wholewheat”, you’re usually in good condition. But some products are colored with molasses or caramel coloring to make them appear like whole wheat products, while other products list wholewheat in their ingredients, even when it’s not the dominant ingredient. Pay close attention when buying wholewheat.
Much of this has already been covered, but I’ll mention it once again. Eat legumes like beans, seeds, and nuts. These are foods produced by plants to regenerate life, and eating legumes is a good way to increase the length of your life, too. Eating nuts, seeds, and beans is almost always a good idea.
Drink Low-Fat Milk
Low fat milk has all the nutritional value in calcium that whole milk has, but without fat content or with a much-reduced fat content. Buying 2% or 1% or skim milk is a good way to lower your fat intake and hardly notice it.
Eat Dark Chocolate (in small amounts)
Eating dark chocolate in small amounts introduces antioxidants into your bloodstream that activate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels. Remember that eating a lot of dark chocolate is not healthy. Also realize that milk chocolate doesn’t produce the same positive results.
Work on Your Inner Calm
Take ten minutes a day to work on your inner calm. Spend that time breathing deeply and clearly your mind about the past and the future. Focus on the moment. Listen to calming music. Clear your mind. Then take some more deep breaths.
Breathing deeply is a good stress-reducer throughout the course of the day, too. If you feel yourself getting stressed, take three deep breaths before you say or do anything. Other stress relievers include laughing throughout the day (it releases endorphins), enjoying time with children and family, and finding other positive activities that take your mind off your cares and concerns.
Get Moderate Exercise
Get your blood flowing every day with 30 minutes of moderate exercise. Get a 30 minute walk or two 15 minute walks during the day. Go to the gym if you prefer. Do something to increase blood flow, breathing capacity, and work out your muscles. All of this tends to release stress.