How to Achieve Lower Blood Pressure Naturally in 7 Days
Learn these proactive ways to lower blood pressure that take effect almost immediately.
What if you could lower your blood pressure naturally and significantly in just 7 days?
Well, you can!
Based on a 2014 study of more than 1,600 people put on a low-fat, plant-based diet in which they ate as much as they wanted for 7 days:
Participants with high blood pressure decreased:
Systolic blood pressure (top number) by 18 points
Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) by 11 points
86% of medicated participants reduced or stopped their blood pressure medication
Lost an average of 3 lbs.
Lowered total cholesterol by 39 points (in those with high cholesterol)
Significantly lowered blood sugar levels
How is this possible?
High blood pressure is no longer considered an age-related condition. Instead, it appears to be the outcome of our daily lifestyle choices. When we address and eliminate the harmful choices, we give our blood vessels a chance to heal and function in a healthy way.
YOU have the power to make that happen.
So how can you use this information to lower your blood pressure? Let’s start with the basics.
What Exactly is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) tells us the amount of pressure inside your blood vessels. More specifically, it is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of your blood vessels. When your heart beats, it pushes blood out of the chambers of your heart into the blood vessels to circulate throughout your body.
What Should My Blood Pressure Be?
Ideal Blood Pressure is defined as:
Systolic BP = 120mmHg or less
Diastolic BP = 80mmHg or less
1. Systolic Blood Pressure (top number) = the amount of pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart contracts, or beats.
2. Diastolic Blood Pressure (bottom number) = the amount of pressure inside of your blood vessels when your heart is relaxed, or in between heartbeats.
Both numbers are reported in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A normal blood pressure for women and men are the same.
What is Considered High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
High blood pressure, or hypertension (HTN) is defined as:
Systolic BP = 130 or above
Diastolic BP = 80 or above
You are on blood pressure-lowering medication
Too much pressure can cause damage to the walls of your blood vessels by constantly pounding against the blood vessel walls with a high amount of force.
Damaged blood vessels can begin the cascade of plaque buildup, or blockages, in your blood vessel walls.
If systolic pressure is high throughout your body, your heart has to work harder to continue circulating blood and your heart becomes overworked, tired, and can eventually cause heart failure.
Diastolic blood pressure also matters. Healthy blood vessels have the ability to relax, and stay dilated, and therefore keep diastolic blood pressure low.
High blood pressure is diagnosed when one or both numbers are elevated. It’s considered the “silent killer” because it usually does not cause symptoms. That is why it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure can be caused by:
A diet high in fat
A diet high in inflammatory foods
A diet high in salt
Excess body weight
Lifestyle choices play a critical role in the health of your heart and blood vessels. The wrong choices can cause blood vessel damage and lead to high blood pressure. Addressing and eliminating harmful choices gives blood vessels a chance to heal and function in a healthy way.
Making choices that promote healthy blood vessels can improve blood pressure considerably.
How Can I Lower Blood Pressure Naturally?
Be proactive! You have control over your heart and blood vessel health.
This is where plants come in.
Whole, plant-based foods have the nutrients your blood vessels need to function properly. They include potassium, nitrates, vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium.
Plant-based foods don’t contain cholesterol and are low in saturated fat and sodium — “baggage” that damages blood vessels and makes it harder to pump blood through your system.
Adopting a plant-based diet might seem overwhelming, but simply moving in that direction can improve your heart health. Start with small steps and look for inspirational meals and stories (like the blue zones) — they can go a very long way.
Start taking these steps today:
1. Eat More Potassium
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps blood vessels dilate, or open up, which can lower the amount of pressure inside the blood vessels.
Eat plenty of high potassium foods like:
· Sweet potatoes
· Leafy greens like spinach, beet greens (and beets), and Swiss chard
· Legumes such as white beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and lentils
· Dried fruit such as dates and raisins
Start the day with a potassium-rich Rainbow Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl or try this
2. Eat Foods Rich in Nitrates
Some vegetables are rich in nitrates that, in the body, encourage the production of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator (opens up blood vessels). Nitric oxide also helps repair the blood vessel walls. Healthier, relaxed blood vessels can result in a lower blood pressure.
Excellent sources of nitrates include dark leafy greens such as:
· Beet greens
· Collard greens
· Brussels sprouts
Aim to eat these every single day. Add them to your meals whenever and wherever you can. Here are some ideas to fit greens into your day without having to eat a salad.
If you take Warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner, talk to your doctor before eating more leafy greens, as they can interfere with this medication. It is possible to adjust your medication dose so that you can eat your desired amount of greens.
3. Watch the Salt (Sodium)!
Where salt goes, water goes. Your body doesn’t like high levels of salt, or sodium, circulating in the bloodstream. In response, your body retains fluid to dilute the sodium in your bloodstream. Unfortunately, this greater volume of blood in our vessels can increase blood pressure.
Keep in mind that lowering sodium is a reactive but effective approach to blood pressure management. Don’t discount the value of other, proactive steps outlined here.
Avoiding the saltshaker is the first step, but many common foods can easily take us above the daily sodium limit of 2,300mg.
If you cook with salt, try to slowly cut back on your use. Your taste buds will adjust and relearn to enjoy the taste of the wonderful food underneath all that salt!
Experiment with flavoring your food with fresh and dried herbs, flavored vinegars, garlic, onion, and citrus.
Foods generally high in sodium are:
· Prepackaged snacks and baked goods
· Salad dressings
· Frozen meals
· Tomato sauce
· Canned foods (rinsing thoroughly can get rid of almost half the sodium)
· Canned soup and regular broth/stock
· Processed meats and cheese
· Pizza and bread
· Restaurant meals
A whole food, plant-based diet is made up of foods naturally low in sodium. When your intake of processed foods is limited, cooking with a modest amount of salt may be fine.
Read your nutrition labels. Sodium is listed on the food label and will be a reliable way to calculate how much sodium you consume on a daily basis.
Opt for low sodium versions of your favorite foods and, better yet, make whole, plant foods (such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes) a more centered focus every day.
4. Focus on Naturally Low-Fat Foods
Almost all plant-based foods are low in fat and all plants are cholesterol-free.
Animal and processed foods, on the other hand, are generally high in fat and cholesterol, which increases the thickness of your blood (viscosity), making it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body, which can raise blood pressure.
Surprisingly, cooking oils such as olive and palm oils have also been shown to cause relative paralysis of our blood vessels and blood thickening.
Focus on whole foods that are naturally low in saturated fat, and free of trans fat and cholesterol, such as:
Legumes, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils
Some plant-based foods are naturally high in fat, but are still healthful. If you’re trying to improve your blood pressure or lose weight, however, limiting these foods may be helpful.
High-fat plant-based foods include:
Nuts and seeds
Nut and seed butters, such as almond butter and tahini
5. Get Moving
Exercise works just like medicine, folks. And it starts working immediately.
Moderate intensity exercise dilates blood vessels just like medicine, and this effect can last for up to 13 hours after an exercise session.
Take a brisk walk everyday and it's kind of like taking a beta-blocker.
Also, regular aerobic exercise, and possibly resistance training, can help lower both the top and bottom number by 5-7 points.
Safety Tips per the American College of Sports Medicine:
Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program and ensure your blood pressure is under control first.
Monitor your blood pressure before and after exercise, and during if possible.
Always warm up and cool down. Stopping exercise suddenly can cause a quick drop in blood pressure. Slow your pace for at least the last 5 to 10 minutes of your exercise session.
If you are on blood pressure medication, don’t exercise until you have taken your medications (unless your doctor says you can).
See if you qualify for cardiac rehabilitation (supervised exercise).
Avoid isometric exercises, or exercises that are held in place, like planks, unless your doctor says otherwise.
Breathe! (in other words, don’t hold your breath when lifting weights).
Check with your doctor about medications that may affect how your heart responds to exercise.
High blood pressure is a condition in which the pressure inside of the blood vessels is higher than normal, making the heart work harder than it should.
Eating a whole food, plant-based diet and more daily movement may be the fastest way to lower blood pressure naturally. Because these high blood pressure remedies can take effect very quickly, talk to your doctor before making any changes.
Big lifestyle changes overnight is difficult for many people, and that is okay! Small, gradual changes boost confidence and motivation that can propel you towards even more meaningful change. Just keep taking those positive steps!
Some programs focus on natural treatment for high blood pressure using practical action steps and accountability. Here are some to consider: Heart & Diabetic Health: Restored and Women’s Group Heart Health Coaching.
Want to take even more meaningful steps to restore your heart health? Learn more about 5 other risk factors for heart disease that you have the power to improve or eliminate, along with 11 exciting ways to get your family engaged in a heart healthy lifestyle.
Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program or changing your eating habits. These changes in addition to blood pressure medication are additive and can lower your blood pressure too low.
This is also not a replacement for medical advice and is to be used for informational purposes only.