The compounds in dark chocolate have an effect on blood pressure. To get the maximum health benefits, you should try to eat 0.5 ounces per day and make sure that it has a Cocoa content of at least 70%. Less dark chocolate has more added sugar and doesn’t have as much of the flavanols that are responsible for a blood pressure reduction. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the more chocolate you eat, the lower your blood pressure will be, but do expect a reduction. Adding pure cocoa powder to recipes or your coffee each morning is another way to get the benefit and might be easier to fit into your routine. Dark chocolate is also a good choice for diabetics that have high blood pressure as well.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
While it may be hard to give up caffeinated beverages entirely, reducing your intake can help your blood pressure. When you consume caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks, your adrenaline level can increase and cause your blood pressure to rise accordingly. Some medical experts are of the opinion that caffeine has the effect of blocking an important hormone responsible for the expansion of your arteries. When arteries are more restricted, blood flow slows and pressure increases. There are much low caffeine or decaffeinated beverage options available. Some coffee is even available in a half decaf format for those that want to reduce but not totally give up their cup of java.
Smoking or chewing tobacco is a habit that has many negative effects on your short term and long term health. The nicotine in tobacco will cause heart rate and blood pressure to rise. This can become more pronounced with age or if you have other medical issues. Quitting tobacco is very hard for some long term users but it well worth it. The changes in your health can be dramatic even if you have only kicked the habit for a week. Your local health department likely has smoking cessation programs that are free or very low cost. Nicotine patches and gums that allow users to step down their dosage of nicotine can help long-term smokers and chewers to kick the habit for good.
Enjoy The Music
The benefits of enjoying music or singing are pretty dramatic. Music relaxes anxiety by raising the level of mood-enhancing dopamine in your brain. Those that partake in music have lower levels of depression and other disorders. Learning to play an instrument can help you unwind and lower blood pressure as well. Music can encourage social interaction and happiness. Karaoke at a coffee house can help elevate your mood. Sometimes relaxation and hobbies are the best all natural ways to reduce stress. Discovering new music is fun and easy with the many different music services available today for under $10 per month.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Some cuisine is very salty. The American diet and others that are comprised of a lot of processed foods have a lot of hidden sodium in them. Salt is cheap to add and over time it is easy to get used to having a lot of it in foods. Restaurant food, particularly fast food, can sometimes have several day’s worth of salt in one meal! Reducing salt can be hard to do so you might have to start with small substitutions. Cooking meals from scratch help put you in control of your salt intake. There are a lot of spice blends available that pack a lot of flavor without the salt. The reason salt raises blood pressure is that it causes your body to hold more water which in turn raises your blood pressure.
Potassium Rich Foods
Bananas and other potassium-rich foods can help lower blood pressure. If you are diabetic, then be careful how much fruit you consume because it is high in natural sugars. Leafy greens are a good source of low sugar potassium. These foods also help you lose weight and lead a more healthy lifestyle overall. Visiting a local farmers market for what is in season is a good excuse to get some exercise and stock up on some delicious fruit and veggies. Adding these foods to your diet and cooking is easier than you might think. Spinach is great on pizza or in a soothing and creamy soup. Potassium rich foods are easy to add to smoothies in the morning or throughout the course of the day.
The importance of getting a good level of physical activity each day cannot be stressed enough. Being too sedentary can contribute to a variety of physical and mental problems. Exercise is what you make of it. Taking a class at your local community center or gym is a great way to stay on track and learn how to exercise safely and correctly so you can best meet your fitness goals. Regular exercise strengthens your heart muscles, so less pressure is needed to get blood where it needs to go. Mixing up your exercise routine can help encourage you to stick with it. Hiking, jogging, and other outdoor activities can all have a great impact on your physical health. Just remember to start to slow with your workouts, so you don’t strain yourself.
Your body does make some of this powerful antioxidant, but you can get it in supplement form. It reduces blood pressure in most individuals. Coenzyme Q10 production decreases as we age so you may want to add this to your blood pressure maintenance regime as you age. Your doctor can help you decide if the supplement is right for you. If you are taking other medications, it is especially important to check before adding any supplements. Your doctor may also be able to recommend other natural supplements that can help you more easily manage your blood pressure over the years.
Soy Protein Based Foods
Soy is a good replacement for high salt foods and other unhealthy aspects of your diet. For those that want to reduce the amount of meat they are eating, soy can offer many delicious and lower calorie options. Tempeh, an Indonesian soy product, is great on the grill for a burger replacement. Soy milk that is unsweetened can help reduce dairy consumption and calories so you consume less sugar and can lose weight more easily. Soy is a good substitute for high carbohydrate foods that can increase blood sugar and pressure. Reduced sodium soy sauce can add a lot of flavor to foods but still has a substantial amount of sodium so be sure to use sparingly.
Reduce Alcohol Drinks
1-2 drinks per day can help lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Many doctors recommend the red wine for your daily drinks because it contains compounds that are good for your heart and helps you rebuild cells. It is important to realize that consuming more than 1-2 drinks can have a detrimental effect on your health. You can talk to your doctor about what level of alcohol consumption is healthy for you considering any medications or other medical conditions you have beyond high blood pressure. There is still some controversy about alcohol consumption with some doctors so don’t be afraid to get a second opinion as to what level is healthy for you.
Take Time To Relax
Stress and anxiety are major factors related to high blood pressure. Everyone needs some down time to recharge and get their mind straight. A hobby you enjoy, a good book and glass of wine, or yoga, are but some of the ways to sneak in some relaxation into a busy lifestyle. If you are a busy parent then maybe a childcare exchange with another parent could offer you some relief at times. Relaxation is important to mental health and how well you deal with others. If your life still seems to stressful for you to relax then you might consider consulting with a counselor or someone that can help you create a strategy to get your stress levels under control.
Reduce Work Stress
Many of us spend more than 1/3 of our entire day at work so it should come as no surprise that work environment can influence our health and well-being. A high-stress job can lead to high blood pressure, especially in those that have genetic factors working against them. Relaxing music, decor, and other measures can help. Some employers have found that employees often work better when they do their job from home due to the higher level of personal comfort and familiarity. If you work at a desk, make sure to take measures to move around some throughout the day even if you can only do so on assigned breaks.
Take A Trip To The Zoo
Interacting and observing wildlife can have a positive effect on your blood pressure. Watching animals go about their daily lives has a relaxing and soothing effect. The reasons for the reduction in blood pressure are not exactly clear but it stands to reason getting away from the day to day chores and focusing on nature is going to have a positive effect on your health. This is the same reason therapy dogs and cats are used at medical facilities and nursing homes. Just petting a dog each day can help you be healthier. If you can’t have your dog then maybe you can borrow friends for a walk once in a while.
Green Tea Antioxidants
Decaffeinated green tea can offer some blood pressure lowering properties. Iced or hot, green tea is refreshing and inexpensive to make. Green tea can have flavors added to it for character. A beautiful tea set can encourage you to get started drinking tea. Other herbs can be added to green tea for additional benefits. Green tea extract is available in capsule form as well at any local drug store. These are a good solution for when drinking tea is not an option or if you don’t care for the taste of green tea itself. Be aware that the capsules can be a stimulant.
Sleep Apnea Cures
Lack of sleep alone can contribute to high blood pressure. If you are having trouble breathing at night, it can make your blood pressure rise. A breathing machine at night can provide a continuous flow of air into your nostrils so that you don’t have trouble breathing and thus sleep better. Sleep apnea can be caused by obesity as well, so losing weight is an important part of treatment. A doctor can help you decide what treatment is right for you. Surgery is sometimes required to widen restricted airways and nasal passages for long term relief. Snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnea and can affect you and your spouse’s ability to sleep.
Losing weight means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. Getting into better shape is not as hard as you might think with the level of resources available to us today. A gym membership is not very expensive and can help add structure, so you are on a schedule for success. Work out partner can help make exercise fun and keep you on a schedule. If aerobics classes in a group are not your style, then you can make your exercise routine in your living room with a few basic workout essentials like weights or a yoga mat.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a lack of energy and a general low feeling. Sunlight lowers blood pressure because it relaxes the blood vessels in the top layers of the skin. Getting sunlight is one of the easiest ways you can reduce blood pressure. If you live in some climates purchasing a sunlamp can help during the dark winter months. Outdoor exercise can have the combined benefit of getting you out in the sun and better physical condition. Getting outside is a great activity to do with your kids or grandchildren.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar is hidden in a lot of foods. Even if it seems like you are not eating foods that are overly sweet, the cumulative effect can be hard on your health. High sugar diets make you more susceptible to diabetes and high blood pressure. There are many high-quality sugar substitutes such as Stevia that can help replace the sugar you crave. It is important to realize that high carbohydrate foods are broken down into sugars and contribute to blood sugar and pressure.
Monitor Blood Pressure
A home blood pressure monitor is cheap and easy to use and will help you keep an accurate account of how your blood pressure is behaving over time. These records are valuable because they can help your doctor treat you with a greater degree of accuracy. You can also track your progress and make sure that treatment is offering results.
There are many different prescription medications available, but only your doctor can decide what is right for you. Side effects can occur with any medication so it might take trying more than one medication to get the right one. It is very common for doctors to prescribe low doses of two or more blood pressure medications for a cumulative effect. Dosage may be changed over time or the ratio of one drug to the other adjusted. It is important to report any side effects or progress to your doctor promptly, especially if you have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Doctor Check Ups
Regular doctor visits can help pinpoint problems before they increase in severity. Blood pressure is often overlooked until a doctor’s visit indicates that it is an issue. As you age, you may want to increase the amount of checkups you have with your regular physician. Check-ups might seem like a hassle to you but they can go a long way towards preventing future health issues, and you have a chance to get good advice on diet and preventative medicine. Your doctor can help you decide how many check-ups are necessary for you to be on a good health care schedule.