1) Eat Lots of Potassium Rich Foods – It is difficult to avoid salt since salt is in pretty much everything we intake, even our water. Because of this, most of us should eat at least three times as much potassium as we do salt, to keep our blood pressure normal. Salt sends blood pressure up, while potassium brings it down. To help get the potassium you need, eat one of three helpings of potassium-rich foods every day. Below is a chart listing the best sources of potassium.
For more potassium-rich food variety visit the USDA to see their Potassium Nutrient Chart.
2) Eat Ample Amounts of Magnesium Rich Foods. – Magnesium is another nutrient that lowers blood pressure and help to balance your salt intake. Whole grains, beans, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, and fruits and vegetables are good sources of magnesium. Steam vegetables instead of boiling them; boiling takes away a good portion of the potassium and magnesium, and allows sodium to be picked up more easily by the food. See video on Proper way to steam vegetables
3) Limit Your Salt Intake – Not everyone with high blood is affected by dietary sodium – the main ingredient in salt – but most are, and excess sodium experts say, will cause many of these people to retain excess fluid which can raise blood pressure.
If salt makes you retain fluid, the Joint National Committee on High Blood Pressure recommends that you reduce your daily intake to 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams – about the amount you would find in 1 teaspoon of salt.
Some of us are more salt-sensitive than others. In fact, some people are so sensitive to salt that even a small amount can result in a large leap up, of their blood pressure. How can you know if you’re sensitive? Experts suggest a salt-free diet for a month to see if blood pressure goes down; if it does, then you can assume you are salt-sensitive, and will probably benefit from keeping salty foods permanently off your table.
4) Read Labels When Shopping – You are not the one putting most of the salt in your food! 75% of salt in your diet is put there by food processing plants. As a result, salt is a major, hidden ingredient in the most unexpected foods. Cured meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and sausage are loaded with salt, as are canned soups, canned tuna, and prepared pancakes.
As you can see, it is important to get in the habit of reading labels, and bypassing foods that are over-loaded with sodium. Look for labels that state “low sodium” or “no salt added.” You should be able to find your desired product available in a low-sodium or no-sodium form.
5) Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – Daily. Aerobics, Run – if You Can’t Run, walk. – By now we should all know the importance of regular exercise for our well-being. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise – the kind that gets your heart pumping, such as brisk walking – can lower blood pressure by 4 or 5 points. How? Two ways: 1) It reduces the amount of blood pumping through your arteries by reducing the amount of salt in your blood – your sweat is salty, right? 2) It reduces blood levels of “fight or flight” biochemicals that cause blood vessels to constrict and raise pressure.
How much exercise is beneficial? Twenty minutes of exercise everyday is a great number to start with and gradually increase the number to up to sixty minutes per day. You should always get your doctor’s approval before engaging in any form of exercise routine. You may think that you are okay to begin, but your regular doctor knows in-depth about your overall health, and therefore better equipped to advise you wisely.
6) Elude Anger, and Laugh, Laugh, Laugh. – Habitually holding in anger or lashing out without trying to solve a problem can lead to erratic increases in blood pressure. According to experts, keeping track of your anger in a diary will help you identify and understand the causes of your anger, and be better able to monitor them. You will list the things that made you angry, what you did about it, and how you felt at the time, and subsequently. This will allow you to reflect and develop strategies for defusing anger – constructively.
Laughter is definitely the best medicine! According to experts, a hearty laugh causes a small but fleeting decrease in blood pressure. This means we should try to do it as much as possible! Do not let a day go by without getting your daily dose of laughter. Go to a funny movie or watch one on TV, tune in to a comedy channel or go to a comedy club. Whatever you do, try to get your laugh on. It is also imperative to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, rather than people who debate your every word, and make you frown.
7) Get Regular Checkup, and Have Your Blood Pressure Tested – It is routine that a nurse or doctor check your blood pressure whenever you visit a doctor’s office or the hospital. Our blood pressure is so central to our well-being, it would be pointless to get a checkup without a blood pressure check. Blood pressure readings can be affected by anxiety, improper clothing, and a hectic workout. Two or three measurements should be taken, with at least 2 minutes between readings, for a more accurate reading.
Studies have found that people who monitor their own blood pressure by using portable blood pressure monitors such as an aneroid, or a digital blood pressure monitor, experience a more moderate blood flow possibly because of them getting their own biofeedback. It could also be that people are more relaxed during the actual measurement because they are so used to doing it themselves.
So, in a nutshell, control your blood pressure better by: eating healthy meals – including lots of potassium and magnesium rich foods; staying away from salt – as much as possible, reading labels to avoid large amounts of sodium; exercising regularly; evading anger and embracing laughter; and getting regular medical checkup. Observing these healthy living habits, will help you control your blood pressure and ensure you a longer, healthier lifespan.