If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure—or hypertension—guess what: you’ve just joined half of the population of adults in the United States. Even more troubling is the fact that 28 percent of those don’t even know that they have it, which is why high blood pressure is called the “silent killer.” High blood pressure ups your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, and kidney failure—and it’s a contributor to over 15% of the death in the U.S. each year.
Now, allow me to offer up some good news: you can manage hypertension and lower your blood pressure numbers through a bunch of simple and easily doable tips and techniques. These are things you can do each and every day to lower your high blood pressure and drop your risk of dying early. At the very least, try to implement at least a few of these 40 practices into your life for healthier blood vessels, a stronger heart, and live a longer life. For more hacks to live a longer life, check out these 100 Ways to Live to 100.
Have a cup of yogurt each morning
Studies have shown that a certain type of beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut can block the effects of high-salt diets, helping to keep blood pressure normal. Yogurt and other foods that contain good bacteria, like kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, are called probiotics and can help keep our gut healthy. And while you’re eating it, know that there’s a Secret Second Use for Your Yogurt Lid.
Check your blood pressure at home
One way of being on top of your health is being able to quickly and easily monitor it at home, and that’s especially true of blood pressure. Scientists at the University of Oxford found that people with hypertension who checked themselves at home—and had support from medical professionals outside the home—were able to reduce it by a significant 3.2mmHg compared to those who relied solely on doctor’s appointments. And for more great health advice, here are the 20 Everyday Habits That Increase Your Cancer Risk.
Sweat in a sauna often
It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but a recent study from Finland found that frequenting a sauna can lower risk of high blood pressure. Researchers reported that people who went in the heat bath four to seven times a week had a 50% lower blood pressure than those who only went once a week. For more about saunas, here are 9 Amazing Health Benefits of Saunas.
Pick pears and other high-fiber foods
Foods high in fiber like pears, raspberries, black beans, and chickpeas are some of what you should be noshing on every day. The high fiber content helps make us feel full longer so you can more easily maintain a healthy weight, which is key to keep in blood pressure in check. For more on what to eat, read up on these 40 Heart Foods To Eat After 40.
Meditate 2.5 hours a week
Meditation and practicing mindfulness has long been known as a great stress-reliever and the lower your stress, the better your blood pressure numbers. Recent research from Kent State says that practicing two and a half hours of mindfulness behaviors each week, like sitting meditation, body scans, and yoga, can drop blood pressure by around 5 mmHg. Bonus: Being mindful is also one of the 100 Best Anti-Aging Secrets!
Pick up a pet
No matter if it’s a cat, dog, fish, bird, or even reptile, having a pet can be a fun and rewarding way to beat stress. The long-term benefits of companionship and stress-reducing play time that you can get with a pet can provide blood pressure-lowering benefits, according to multiple studies.
Have a cup of sweet potatoes
Lower salt intake is good for keeping blood pressure normal, but adding potassium-packed foods can also help. These foods—like sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans—deliver more potassium into our system, which as been shown to prompt the kidneys to expel more salt, according to a study from USC.
Cover salads with olive oil
When you put olive oil on vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and carrots, which are full of nitrites, it makes compounds called nitro fatty acids, says a recent study. Olive oil has unsaturated fats that make this transformation happen, and those new acids create enzymes that lower blood pressure. And for more great healthy eating advice, here are the 20 Worst Food Myths That Still Persist.
Have some herbal tea
Drinking three cups of herbal teas that contain some hibiscus each day has been found to lower blood pressure, says a study from Tufts University. Researchers think that the phytochemicals in the ingredient reduce inflammation in the blood vessels.
Pop a lot of hot peppers
The active ingredient in hot peppers, and the one that sets your mouth on fire, is called capsaicin. Studies have shown that fiery compound can be helpful to lower high blood pressure because it lets blood vessels relax and allow more blood to flow through.
Sip on some tart cherry juice
A study from Northumbria University in the U.K. reported that simply drinking some tart Montmorency cherry juice can reduce high blood pressure at a similar amount compared with taking medication. The drop, which was measured at 7mmHg lower in the three hours after drinking, is more than what’s required to reduce risk of stroke by 38%. For more great ways to upgrade your diet, consider investing in some of the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels.
Get tested regularly
If you don’t have any equipment to check your blood pressure at home regularly, head to your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, or even some grocery stores to measure your blood pressure weekly. The more you know about where you stand, the easier it will be to make sure it’s on a downward trend.
Get on a rower
If you dread running on a treadmill or despise the looking manic on the elliptical, try taking a seat at the rower when it’s time for some heart-pounding cardio. Studies say that rower can utilize more muscles with each motion, which means more blood moving through your body and stronger blood vessels. Bonus: Hitting the rower is one of the 10 Best Workouts for Men Over 40.
Pop in ear plugs
It’s important to make sure your bedroom is cool and dark when you hit the sack, but it’s important to have quiet environment, too. Studies have found that for restful and restorative sleep, even moderately loud noises—like a humming air conditioner—can up raise your blood pressure. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, start reading the 65 Tips for Your Best Sleep Ever.
Crack open a watermelon
Watermelon is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help made a healthy body. They are also packed with amino acids citrulline and arginine, and a 2010 study from Florida State University discovered that a watermelon extract containing 6 grams of the aminos was able to lower blood pressure in healthy adults.
Mix in cardio and yoga to your workouts
Doing some yoga and adding in cardio can give your workout routine the extra punch to lower blood pressure, says a new study from India. Researchers showed that the combination can also reduce in body mass and cholesterol levels. And if you’re traveling here’s The Best Way to Do Yoga on an Airplane.
Become more sexual
Energetic activity in-between the sheets can not only strengthen your heart, it also is great for dropping stress levels by releasing endorphins. This soothing and sensual stress-reduction technique will lower your blood pressure—just make sure you have sex often, at least four times a week.
Doing multi-joint, or compound, exercises challenge your body and get a lot of blood flowing, making for a stronger heart and more relaxed blood vessels. You can do moves squats, pushups, and lunges, but if you are pressed for time, at least do deadlifts as they work about 90% of your muscles in one movement.
Put lean beef on your plate
A lot of diets meant to lower blood pressure often say to leave out red meat entirely, but getting lean cuts of beef everyday has been shown to be heart-healthy, says new research from Penn State. Go for lean cuts like round roast, top sirloin, and flap steak, and add in plenty of fruits and veggies, too. And if you feel like your cut of beef isn’t quite as fancy as you like, worry not: Just plunk it in one of these 15 Best Steak Marinades on the Planet.
Stay away from artificial sweets
Keeping away from foods with added sugar when trying to lose weight and lower blood pressure, but also make sure to nix any artificial sweeteners. A Canadian study found that fake sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose may raise your risk for developing high blood pressure.
Don’t work overtime
Be sure to inform your boss that long and stressful days on the clock could kill your earlier. A study on over 10,000 workers that was published in the European Heart Journal showed that working three or more hours over a normal seven-hour day increased risk of dying from heart-related problems like high blood pressure by 60%. If that sounds like you, chill out! And read The Best Way to Achieve Balance.
Drink a glass of beet juice
It may not be the tastiest juice in the world, but downing a cup of beetroot juice everyday, could drop your blood pressure, says research published in the journal Hypertension. The high levels of nitrates work to expand blood vessels, allowing for easier passage and lower pressure.
Hit the weights for one hour a week
Lifting weights for one hour a week can lower your risk of developing high blood pressure by 17%, says a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. If you can also add in some aerobic exercise, researchers note, that mix was shown to be the most protective to the cardiovascular system.
Make a spinach salad
Spinach is high in potassium, which helps clear sodium from your body, and it contains plant compounds that can reduce appetite and curb the cravings for salty foods that lead to weight gain. A high body mass index has been linked to high blood pressure, says a 2017 study published in JAMA Cardiology.
Bathe in the forest
The Japanese-invented act of shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, can lower blood pressure and limit production of stress hormones. You don’t have to go to Japan though to experience it’s soothing benefits, just head to a local forest and take time to slow down and enjoy the trees and green space. In the market for an amazing destination? Try one of the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
Stop consuming energy drinks
The popular—and pretty disgusting—beverages that those in need of a boost love to drain can also bring up your blood pressure, so eliminate them from your diet. They usually contain a lot of caffeine and taurine that both can negatively affect blood pressure and heart function, studies have shown.
Stop at one tsp of salt
Along with getting more potassium in your diet, you should also limit sodium intake. If you are getting more than the recommended 2,300mg a day (equal to one tsp) either from added salt or from what’s already in your food, cut it out. Extra salt can lead to high blood pressure, stiff arteries, and heart disease. And for more cutting-edge health advice, here are the 40 Health Myths You Hear Every Day.
Take a short walk every hour
Standing up and moving around more often during the day has been shown to improve health, and a study from the University of Missouri found that just a 10-minute stroll after sitting can allow your blood vessels to open up and restore blood flow. Sitting for six to eight hours a day greatly reduces your blood flow in the legs.
Nosh on dark chocolate
A recent meta-analysis of 15 studies discovered that eating dark chocolate can lower blood pressure in those who already have hypertension. The decadent treat is loaded with heart-healthy cocoa flavanols, or plant compounds, that boost blood vessel functioning.
Take a 45-minute nap
Make some time in your day for a quick snooze and you can lower your blood pressure, according to 2011 research that appeared in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The study found that daytime sleep of between 45- and 60-minutes long lowered blood pressure readings by a significant amount. Want to really elevate your napping game? Consider a “coffee nap.” According to our correspondent, it will change your life.
Get regular snoring checked out
Snoring isn’t only super annoying for those around you, it may also be a signal that you suffer from a sleeping disorder like sleep apnea. A single instance of sleep apnea messes up the bodies attempt at regulating blood pressure, which can damage blood vessels and contribute to heart disease. And for helping squashing snoring once and for all, read the 5 Reasons You’re Snoring Every Night—And How to Stop It.
Limit smartphone use
The constant buzzes and notifications and texts that define living with the modern smartphone may make some aspects of your life easier, but overall the cacophony and attention-drain creates more stress and higher blood pressure. Try to set aside a few hours of phone-free time each day… if you have the fortitude.
Take a fish oil supplement
The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon are important for heart health. To get enough to reduce high blood pressure, turn to a high-quality fish oil supplement—most docs recommend up to 1,000mg a day—says a study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Have more laughs
Learning to relax, laugh, and being happier in general will make you healthier, not just have a stronger cardiovascular system. When you live a happier and more humorous life, your brain releases dopamine and subsequently circulating a compound that lowers blood pressure, says a recent study.
Get a few rays
Sitting in the sun is great for vitamin D, but exposing your skin to sunlight is also one way to lower your blood pressure, according to a study from the University of Southampton in the U.K. The rays make levels of nitric oxide in the skin and blood rise, which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Snack on handful of raisins
These dried up little grapes are loaded with plant compounds called polyphenols, along with potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Eating some raisins everyday can significantly lower your blood pressure, says a 2012 study. Grapes have also been found to lower blood pressure, so mix some into your diet if you’re not a raisin fan.
Get your neck adjusted
If you have high blood pressure and a pain in your neck, it may be related to a misalignment of the C-1, or Atlas, vertebrae located high in the neck. A study from the University of Chicago Medical Center found that an adjustment done by a chiropractor lowered blood pressure as much as taking two medications at once—and it lasted into the eighth week of the study.
Stir-fry some tofu tonight
A compound found in soy products like tofu and soy milk called isoflavones (also found in green tea and peanuts, among others) could provide significant blood pressure lowering properties, says a study from Columbia University. Isoflavones are thought to work on reducing blood pressure by increasing the enzymes that make nitric oxide.
Blend up a batch of gazpacho
The fresh veggies that go into making up a great bowl of gazpacho—tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, and olive oil—have all been shown to reduce high blood pressure. But the combo amps up the affect and makes the cold soup a killer hypertension tamer, says a 2012 study from Spain.
Supplement with whey protein
Slamming down a shake made with protein powder is a constant ritual after lifting weights, but consuming whey protein may also battle high blood pressure. The Washington State University showed that drinking low-cost protein beverages everyday can drop pressure in those with hypertension. For more on what proteins to eat, check out The 5 Best High-Protein Snacks for Men.
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