Controlling High Blood Pressure Naturally with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is defined as a sustained elevated arterial blood pressure measured indirectly by an inflatable cuff and pressure manometer. 

Hypertension often involves many body organs, including the heart, endocrine system, kidneys, and nervous systems.

Hypertension has a worldwide burden on human quality of life and the healthcare systems. Hypertension increases mortality and raises the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, heart failure, and stroke. 

One of every three adults 20 years of age or older in the US has hypertension.

Hypertension affects over 1 billion people globally.

75 % of those diagnosed with hypertension are managed with antihypertensive medications [1, 2]. However, these medications are successful in reducing blood pressure only in about 53% of patients.[3].


A person’s blood pressure is not constant and varies throughout the day and daily, depending on many factors. Therefore, to be diagnosed with hypertension, you must measure blood pressure on a few separate visits before being diagnosed with the condition. 

The classification used for diagnosing high blood pressure is that of the World Health Organization (WHO, 1978):

  • Normotension: Systolic BP: 140 mmHg and Diastolic BP: 90 mmHg;
  • Borderline hypertension: Systolic BP 141-159 mmHg and Diastolic BP 91-94 mmHg;
  • Hypertension: Systolic BP: 160 mmHg or Diastolic BP: 95 mmHg.

When blood pressure either elevates to severely high levels or is borderline high regularly, you can experience severe headaches, chest pain, vision problems, difficulty breathing, confusion, and even nosebleeds leading to the health risks associated with high blood pressure. 

Even a 2- mmHg reduction in the diastolic blood pressure will have significant health improvements. With this reduction in blood pressure, you may see a 17 % decrease in the risk of heart disease and a 15 % reduction in the risk of stroke [4].

Hypertension is influenced by several risk factors, including age, weight, food choices, environmental and genetic factors, and the interactions of these factors. 

There are ways to control high blood pressure naturally by making better diet and lifestyle choices.

The Best Lifestyle And Dietary Choices To Reduce Blood Pressure: 

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Maintaining a healthy weight by eating right and exercising regularly is crucial in maintaining healthy blood pressure. 

Avoiding obesity or a body mass index (BMI) over 28 will reduce your risk of high blood pressure. In a study led by the Department of Cardiology, Second People’s Hospital of Chengdu in Chengdu, researchers found that obesity increased the risk of high blood pressure, with the prevalence of obesity-related hypertension exceptionally high in adults aged 40 to 79. [5]  

However, not only overweight people suffer from hypertension. 

Regular Aerobic Exercise 

There is strong evidence that people who are less physically active or live sedentary lifestyles are more prone to hypertension.

Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, and cycling helps you maintain a healthy weight and improves cardiovascular health, which helps lower the risk of high blood pressure. 

In a study following the responses to aerobic and resistance training in people with high blood pressure, there was a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for those engaging in regular aerobic exercise, however, there was no change or minimal reduction in resistance training. [6] 

Limit Sodium Intake 

There is a direct relationship between blood pressure values and excessive salt consumption. In a study led by a team from the Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Cardiology Unit in Milan, researchers observed the link between salt intake and hypertension. The research showed that decreasing salt in the diet has a favorable effect on hypertensive people. Limiting salt intake leads to better vascular function, particularly in the large arteries. [7]  

The World Health Organization recommends limiting salt intake to about 2 grams per day.

However, I am not only talking about the salt you may be adding to foods before consumption. This added salt at the table and during cooking only accounts for 11% of sodium intake in the US [8]. In contrast, the majority of salt intake comes from processed foods. 

The daily sodium intake for Americans over the age of 2 years is 3.6g, which is almost double the recommended levels by the World Health Organization [9-11].

Salt restriction is one of the foundations of an antihypertensive diet, with the greatest decrease in blood pressure associated with the lowest salt intake. Studies suggest that managing salt intake is a critical component in managing hypertension. [12-14]

The best way to manage salt intake is by avoiding processed foods that contain added sodium. Prepare your food at home as often as possible and use vegetable salts instead of table salt. Vegetable salts are made from naturally salty vegetables such as celery. These add flavor to foods and also add nutritional value without causing damage to the body. 

Also, drink plenty of water to help flush salt from your kidneys. 

Consume fruits, especially those rich in potassium

The mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables can help manage blood pressure vary according to their potassium, magnesium, flavonoid, polyphenol, and fiber content. Higher blood potassium levels are associated with lower blood pressure since they lead to an improved sodium-potassium ratio in the diet [15-18].

Furthermore, when taking potassium as a supplement with magnesium-rich foods, there is a synergistic effect in blood pressure reduction. 

High magnesium foods include leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and legumes.

“Smart Salt” was produced with this in mind. It is composed of 50% sodium, 25% potassium, and 25% magnesium. This salt is a better alternative for hypertensive people than ordinary table salt, but

I recommend vegetable salt as the best alternative. It takes only three days to get used to lower salt levels and vegetable salts also have magnesium and potassium in small amounts. 

Drink Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice is rich in phytochemicals and polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Moreover, many studies show that pomegranate juice may prevent the development of high blood pressure. [19-22].

Consume a high fiber diet

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop hypertension) is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure, emphasizing foods lower in sodium and fruits and vegetables rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. [23]

The DASH diet is not ideal, but it is hundreds of times more healthy than the average Western diet.

However, the Optimal Macro-Nutrient Intake to Prevent Heart Disease study demonstrated that within a DASH-like dietary approach, substituting protein for carbohydrates or substituting fat for carbohydrates additionally lowered blood pressure [24]. 

For health and lowered blood pressure, your diet should be rich in fiber.

In an analysis involving five trials conducted among hypertensive people, fiber intake was found to significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.95 and 4.20 mmHg, respectively [25].

The US Dietary Guidelines recommend 25–30 g of fiber a day from foods.

Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation

Omega-3 fatty acids regulate inflammation by reducing inflammatory mediators and the level of oxylipins which lower blood pressure. The evidence of the beneficial effects of omega-3 fats in research studies is very consistent. [26-33] I recommend supplementing with plant-based omega 3 fatty acid supplements 5 times a week.

Consume Garlic 

Garlic has antioxidant and antihypertensive effects due to its allicin content. Allicin is a sulfur compound found in garlic that promotes a decrease in blood pressure. Many studies on garlic and hypertension show a significant reduction in blood pressure. Although the form of garlic varies in different research studies, the two best ways to get the most benefit from garlic is by:

1. supplementation with garlic extract that has 1.2 mg S-allyl cysteine 5 times a week while changing your diet.

2. and adding garlic to your cooking to enhance flavor instead of using salt as a seasoning [34-36]

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is rich in polyphenols, known as catechins, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG stimulates nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide is used as a medication to reduce blood pressure. It causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, lowering blood pressure. This effect is also achieved with green tea consumption. However, another beneficial effect of EGCG is that it not only reduces blood pressure, which is basically a symptom, but it also has an anti-inflammatory effect that protects against blood vessel damage. EGCG also stops fluid retention. [37-40].

Green tea consumption is a great way to add flavor to water for those who do not like to drink plain water, so long as sugar is not added to the tea. Stevia leaves can be used as a natural sweetener if necessary.

Reduce alcohol consumption:

It is well established that excessive alcohol consumption is associated with elevated blood pressure and the development of hypertension [41-43].

A 2008 study showed that even low alcohol consumption of one drink a day increased the risk of hypertension in men. For women, alcohol consumption of four or more drinks a day was associated with hypertension. [44]

Takeaway 

It’s important to know that high blood pressure or hypertension doesn’t always have symptoms. However, since untreated hypertension can lead to severe diseases, you should check your blood pressure regularly if you are at a high-risk age, are drinking regularly, and have unhealthy body weight.  

The consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and low consumption of salt, meat, sweets, processed foods, and alcohol has been proven to lead to significant reductions in blood pressure. Supplementation with garlic and omega 3 while drinking green tea and pomegranate juice were found to support health and reduce high blood pressure and the risk of developing high blood pressure in the future. 

Incorporating regular exercise in addition to a healthy diet also has a major beneficial effect in lowering blood pressure.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d be honored if you would share it with your family, friends, and followers by clicking the Like, Tweet, and Share buttons. If you are serious about improving your health no matter what your age or circumstances, and are ready to finally achieve optimal health and lose the weight you’ve been struggling with, then click HERE to check out my online Guerrilla Diet Wholistic Lifestyle Bootcamp for Healthy and Lasting Weight Loss.

If you are not already on my mailing list where you will receive my weekly articles packed with scientifically based health, and nutrition content, as well as many FREE bonuses and special offers, and much more, then  click HEREto subscribe.

Thank You, 🙂

Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References

  1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013;127(1):e6–e245. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0b013e31828124ad.
  2. Krousel-Wood MA, Muntner P, He J, Whelton PK. Primary prevention of essential hypertension. Med Clin North Am. 2004;88(1):223–38.
  3. Whelton PK, He J, Appel LJ, Cutler JA, Havas S, Kotchen TA, et al. Primary prevention of hypertension: clinical and public health advisory from The National High Blood Pressure Education Program. JAMA. 2002;288(15):1882–8. 
  4. 5. Cook NR, Cohen J, Hebert PR, Taylor JO, Hennekens CH. Implications of small reductions in diastolic blood pressure for primary prevention. Arch Int Med. 1995;155(7):701–9.
  5. Zhang, Y., Hou, LS., Tang, WW. et al. High prevalence of obesity-related hypertension among adults aged 40 to 79 years in Southwest China. Sci Rep 9, 15838 (2019).
  6. James E. Sharman, Andre La Gerche, Jeff S. Coombes, Exercise and Cardiovascular Risk in Patients With Hypertension, American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 28, Issue 2, February 2015, Pages 147–158,
  7. Grillo A, Salvi L, Coruzzi P, Salvi P, Parati G. Sodium Intake and Hypertension. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):1970. Published 2019 Aug 21. doi:10.3390/nu11091970
  8. Havas S, Dickinson BD, Wilson M. The urgent need to reduce sodium consumption. JAMA. 2007;298(12):1439–41. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.12.1439
  9. WHO. Guideline: sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO); 2012. 
  10. Centers for Disease C and Prevention. Application of lower sodium intake recommendations to adults–United States, 1999-2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009;58(11):281–3.
  11. He FJ, MacGregor GA. Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;3:CD004937. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004937. 
  12. Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, Vollmer WM, Appel LJ, Bray GA, et al. Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. DASH-Sodium Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:3–10. 
  13. He FJ, Li J, Macgregor GA. Effect of longer term modest salt reduction on blood pressure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ. 2013;346:1325.
  14. Aburto NJ, Ziolkovska A, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP, Meerpohl JJ. Effect of lower sodium intake on health: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013;346:f1326. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f1326.
  15. Dyer AR, Elliott P, Shipley M. Urinary electrolyte excretion in 24 hours and blood pressure in the INTERSALT Study. II. Estimates of electrolyte-blood pressure associations corrected for regression dilution bias. The INTERSALT Cooperative Research Group. Am J Epidemiol. 1994;139(9):940–51.
  16.   Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013;346:f1378. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f1378.
  17. Gu D, Zhao Q, Chen J, Chen JC, Huang J, Bazzano LA, et al. Reproducibility of blood pressure responses to dietary sodium and potassium interventions: the GenSalt Study. Hypertens. 2013;62(3):499–505. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.01034.
  18. Geleijnse JM, Kok FJ, Grobbee DE. Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: a metaregression analysis of randomised trials. J Hum Hypertens. 2003;17(7):471–80. doi: 10.1038/sj.jhh.1001575.
  19. Stowe CB. The effects of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17:113–115. 
  20. Asgary S, Sahebkar A, Afshani MR, Keshvari M, Haghjooyjavanmard S, et al. Clinical evaluation of blood pressure lowering, endothelial function improving, hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate juice in hypertensive subjects. Phytother Res. 2014;28:193–199.
  21. Mohan M, Waghulde H, Kasture S. Effect of pomegranate juice on Angiotensin II-induced hypertension in diabetic Wistar rats. Phytother Res. 2010;24(Suppl 2):196–203.
  22. Asgary S, Keshvari M, Sahebkar A, Hashemi M, Rafieian-Kopaei M. Clinical investigation of the acute effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure and endothelial function in hypertensive individuals. ARYA Atheroscler. 2013;9:326–331.
  23. Tyson CC, Nwankwo C, Lin PH, Svetkey LP. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern in special populations. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2012;14:388–396 
  24. Appel LJ, Sacks FM, Carey VJ, Obarzanek E, Swain JF, Miller ER, 3rd, et al. Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;294(19):2455–64. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.19.2455. 
  25. Whelton SP, Hyre AD, Pedersen B, Yi Y, Whelton PK, He J. Effect of dietary fiber intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. J Hypertens. 2005;23(3):475–81. 
  26. Ulu A, Stephen Lee KS, Miyabe C, Yang J, Hammock BG, et al. An omega-3 epoxide of docosahexaenoic acid lowers blood pressure in angiotensin-II-dependent hypertension. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2014;64:87–99.
  27. Ueshima H, Stamler J, Elliott P, Chan Q, Brown IJ, et al. Food omega-3 fatty acid intake of individuals (total, linolenic acid, long-chain) and their blood pressure: INTERMAP study. Hypertension. 2007;50:313–319.
  28. Caligiuri SP, Aukema HM, Ravandi A, Guzman R, Dibrov E, et al. Flaxseed consumption reduces blood pressure in patients with hypertension by altering circulating oxylipins via an α-linolenic acid-induced inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase. Hypertension. 2014;64:53–59.
  29. Appel LJ, Miller ER, 3rd, Seidler AJ, Whelton PK. Does supplementation of diet with ‘fish oil’ reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(12):1429–38.
  30. Campbell F, Dickinson HO, Critchley JA, Ford GA, Bradburn M. A systematic review of fish-oil supplements for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. Eur J Prevent Cardiol. 2013;20(1):107–20. doi: 10.1177/2047487312437056. 
  31. Dickinson HO, Nicolson DJ, Cook JV, Campbell F, Beyer FR, Ford GA, et al. Calcium supplementation for the management of primary hypertension in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;2:CD004639. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004639.pub2.
  32. Morris MC, Sacks F, Rosner B. Does fish oil lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled trials. Circulation. 1993;88(2):523–33. 
  33. Geleijnse JM, Giltay EJ, Grobbee DE, Donders AR, Kok FJ. Blood pressure response to fish oil supplementation: metaregression analysis of randomized trials. J Hypertens. 2002;20(8):1493–9.
  34. Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Aged garlic extract reduces blood pressure in hypertensives: a dose-response trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67:64–70. 
  35. Wang HP, Yang J, Qin LQ, Yang XJ. Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) 2015;17:223–231.
  36. Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP, Fakler P, Sullivan T. Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2008;8:13.
  37. Potenza MA, Marasciulo FL, Tarquinio M, Tiravanti E, Colantuono G, et al. EGCG, a green tea polyphenol, improves endothelial function and insulin sensitivity, reduces blood pressure, and protects against myocardial I/R injury in SHR. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007;292:1378–1387. 
  38. Pullikotil P, Chen H, Muniyappa R, Greenberg CC, Yang S, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate induces expression of heme oxygenase-1 in endothelial cells via p38 MAPK and Nrf-2 that suppresses proinflammatory actions of TNF. J Nutr Biochem. 2012;23:1134–1145.
  39. Li F, Takahashi Y, Yamaki K. Inhibitory effect of catechin-related compounds on renin activity. Biomed Res. 2013;34:167–171.
  40. Tong X, Taylor AW, Giles L, Wittert GA, Shi Z. Tea consumption is inversely related to 5-year blood pressure change among adults in Jiangsu, China: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2014;13:98.
  41. Xin X, He J, Frontini MG, Ogden LG, Motsamai OI, Whelton PK. Effects of alcohol reduction on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Hypertens. 2001;38(5):1112–7. 
  42. Appel LJ American Society of Hypertension Writing G. ASH position paper: dietary approaches to lower blood pressure. J Am Soc Hypertens. 2009;3(5):321–31. doi: 10.1016/j.jash.2009.08.003.
  43. Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, Cushman WC, Green LA, Izzo JL, Jr, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertens. 2003;42(6):1206–52. doi: 10.1161/01.HYP.0000107251.49515.c2. 
  44. Sesso HD, Cook NR, Buring JE, Manson JE, Gaziano JM. Alcohol consumption and the risk of hypertension in women and men. Hypertens. 2008;51(4):1080–7. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.107.104968.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field