‘Blood pressure’ is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.  High blood pressure or hypertension is a common disorder in which blood pressure remains abnormally high (a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or greater).  There are some factors that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which you cannot control such as age, family history and ethnic origin.  Some self-help steps you can take include:

1          Stop salt and sodium-rich foods.

2          Decrease or eliminate alcohol.

3          Reject refined foods e.g. sugary, pre-made, preserved, fried and fatty.

4          Reduce or eliminate soft drinks.

5          Reduce saturated and trans-fats.  Choose white fish and skinless chicken and turkey.

6          Eating oats daily can contribute to lowering hypertension.

7          Increase potassium through jacket potatoes, spinach, dried apricots, salmon, avocados and bananas.

8          Boost magnesium through mackerel, figs, dark chocolate, brown rice and pumpkin seeds.

9          Try beetroot juice.

10        Hypertensive patients seldom drink enough milk and they are usually low on calcium.  Increase intake of soybeans, sardines, watercress, broccoli, milk, kale and fortified orange juice.

11        French maritime pine bark extract lowered blood pressure in a Chinese study, which was reported in the January 2004 issue of Life Sciences.

12        Increase your omega-3s via essential fatty acid-containing foods or supplements of fish oil, flaxseed oil and primrose oil.

13        Studies suggest that the isoflavones in soy, tofu, tempeh and miso make arterial walls more elastic.

14        Bean including black, white, navy, lima, pinto, and kidney are full of soluble fibre, magnesium, and potassium, all excellent ingredients for lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health.

15        Studies show carrot juice cleans arteries.

16        The capsicum in cayenne slows arteriosclerosis, which can cause hypertension.

17        Parsley is a natural diuretic, which cuts blood pressure.

18        Ginger offers hypertensive benefits to some.

19        Spinach is packed with heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate, and magnesium — key ingredients for lowering and maintaining blood pressure levels.  Mix fresh spinach leaves into salads or adding them to sandwiches.

20        Evidence shows that garlic lowers hypertension 2%-7%. Onions help too.

21        Saffron contains a blood pressure-lowering chemical called crocetin.

22        Taking 55 mg of concentrated reishi mushroom extract three times a day may reduce moderately high blood pressure after 1 month.

23        Chamomile flowers, fennel seed and rosemary may cut hypertension risk.

24        Cat’s claw contains the alkaloid rhynchophylline, which has anti-hypertensive effects.

25        A 1997 study suggested kelp may help lower blood pressure.

26        Reduce coffee and tea to lower blood pressure.

Healthy lifestyle habits can also help you maintain normal blood pressure.  Routine physical activity can lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.  Staying at a healthy weight can improve your health.  Reducing or eliminating smoking is beneficial (it can damage your blood vessels and raise your risk for high blood pressure).  Learning to manage and cope with stress can help you mentally relax which in turn improves your wellbeing.

NOTE:   Don’t stop blood pressure medication without consulting your GP.  For qualified nutritional advice consult a nutritionist.