How to Control High Blood Pressure

Three Methods:Having a Heart-Healthy DietHaving Heart-Healthy HabitsGoing the Extra Heart-Healthy Mile

Hypertension is a serious problem that affects 1/3 of adults in the United States. It can often have no symptoms but still needs immediate attention -- especially if you are overweight, sedentary, eating improperly and/or it just runs in your family. Try the tips below and see which ones work for you and your lifestyle.

Method 1
Having a Heart-Healthy Diet

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    Start the DASH diet. That stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" diet, which is exactly what you should be looking for. It means piling on the whole foods/grains, fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy and skipping the sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • This diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.[1] Basically, you'll be cutting out red meat, junk food, and white carbs (including "white" sugar, flour, noodles and potatoes,...). You don't have to go cold turkey, but the foods mentioned above should make up the vast majority of your diet.
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    Reduce your sodium intake. Limit your sodium to about 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.[2] If you don't feel like you eat a ton of salt, it may just be an issue of not knowing what's in the food you eat. An easy way to cut out the salt is to skip on the processed foods; when you prepare your own food, you know just what goes into it. Start cooking!
    • Don't add salt to your foods! If that's an issue for you, start cutting back gradually. Believe it or not, your palate will adjust.
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    Up your potassium, magnesium, and calcium levels. These three nutrients have been linked to low levels of blood pressure in multiple studies.[3] While calcium and magnesium aren't linked to technically lowering high blood pressure (like potassium is), they are linked to low blood pressure in general.
    • Potassium (the most potent of the three) is found in fruits, veggies, dairy, and fish.
    • Calcium is found in dairy products (go for the low-fat kind) and magnesium is found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and dry peas and beans.
      • For all three of these, if you have a healthy diet, you don't need to take a supplement. Having extra isn't beneficial to your system.
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    Work in the wonder foods. There are a few foods on this planet that are practically miracle workers. For high blood pressure, those are garlic, dark chocolate, and fish oil. Not all at once, of course!
    • Fatty fish, like mackerel and salmon, contain those magical omega-3 fatty acids. However, taking a supplement is not recommended as having too much in your system may lead to unfortunate side effects. Just grill up some salmon a few times a week (with a bit of olive oil to keep it healthy)![3]
    • Garlic can be used for everything from lowering blood pressure to eliminating ear aches. It's been linked to combating cancer and cholesterol, too! Just make sure what you're adding it to isn't pizza, creamy sauces, or fatty oils![3]
    • Dark chocolate that's at least 70% cocoa can lower blood pressure, according to a recent study. Have just half an ounce daily to reap the benefits.[4] Yum!
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    Switch out coffee for tea. We'll get to the caffeine argument in a bit, but for right now let's cover coffee's morning (and noon and night for some) counterpart, tea. Not only is there less caffeine in tea (which constricts blood vessels), but it can lower blood pressure on a permanent basis! What more reason do you need?
    • A recent study at Tufts University worked with Hibiscus tea. It lowered patients' levels by 7 points -- just like a medication! A lot of herbal teas have hibiscus in them, but look for ones that have it toward the top of the ingredient list for a more potent mix.[5]

Method 2
Having Heart-Healthy Habits

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    Check your blood pressure regularly. Get cholesterol and other readings (possibly at public health clinics or health fairs) and see your medical professional regularly to assess any cardiovascular and other health issues discovered. The more proactive you are, the better grip you'll have on the issue.
    • If you are taking your blood pressure at home, make sure you're doing it correctly! If you have any questions at all, ask your doctor. You should be getting higher readings when you wake up and while at work. It will lower at home and when you're relaxing.[6]
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    Watch your weight. As your weight increases, chances are your blood pressure and related heart-stresses are increasing too. Just a loss of ten pounds can show you a decrease in your blood pressure levels. Consult your doctor on a healthy target weight.
    • In addition to the number on the scale, your waistline measurement matters, too. Men with a waistline of 40 inches (101.6 cm) or more and women with a waist of 35 inches (88.9 cm) or more at an increased risk of hypertension. Asian men and women run on a scale of about 3 inches (7.6 cm) smaller (for both sexes).[1]
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    Exercise 30-60 minutes almost every day of the week. Apart from losing that excess weight, regular cardio exercise can significantly lower your blood pressure within weeks. Weeks! That's about as close to instant gratification as you're gonna get.[1]
    • Even making small efforts helps. Squeezing in a 15 minute walk before work is definitely better than nothing. You don't have to get your workout in all in one go! Having an active lifestyle is all about finding small ways to get moving. It doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym!
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    Limit your alcohol intake. In small amounts, alcohol can lower your blood pressure slightly. However, drinking in moderate amounts can exacerbate your hypertension. Men younger than 65 can get away with 2 drinks a day, but everyone else should stick to 1. And that doesn't mean you get 7 in one day if you've skipped a week!
    • Know what "one drink" really means. That's five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor.[1] And if you don't drink, definitely don't start to reap the one-drink benefits!
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    Avoid tobacco products. Smoking throughout the day can raise your blood pressure virtually permanently. Apart from all the other absolutely terrible side effects of smoking, it can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg for up to an hour after you puff away. Though it's only a temporary effect, if you do it constantly, your blood pressure doesn't know the difference.
    • Secondhand smoke isn't much better. If you can avoid it, do. There are negative consequences in just being around it, too.[1]
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    Cut back on caffeine. Drinking beverages containing caffeine will boost your heart rate and can spike your blood pressure temporarily, in addition to being potentially quite harmful to the health of persons developing hypertension and promoting sleep disorders. It's best to keep it down as much as possible.
    • Do a test yourself, if you can. Certain people are more caffeine-sensitive. Drink a cup of coffee or a can of soda and check your blood pressure within 30 minutes. If your levels raise near 5 or 10 points, you may be extra caffeine-sensitive.
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    Keep a food diary. Controlling (and lowering) your blood pressure isn't incredibly difficult -- it just takes diligence and and attention to detail. Monitoring your diet will be a bit tedious, sure, but it's doable. It'll sure be a lot easier with a food journal!
    • Not only will you see what you should (and shouldn't) eat, you'll notice eating patterns that you may not have noticed before. In addition to tracking what you're eating, also write down when and why. It's probably not always due to hunger!
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    Read food labels. It's absolutely imperative that you know what's going into your system. While you should cut out processed goods as much as possible, there will inevitably be a few that slip through. When you go to the store and are contemplating your purchases, read the label first.
    • If it's high in sodium, preservatives, or words that end in -ose, put it back on the shelf. And if you have to take a second to think about how to pronounce the majority of the ingredients, that's a red flag, too.

Method 3
Going the Extra Heart-Healthy Mile

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    Reduce your stress. Stress and anxiety is one of the major causes of high blood pressure. Take time to think about what is stressing you and how you can solve the problem to alleviate your hypertension. Is there an area of your life that may be exacerbating the problem?
    • If stressors can't be done away with, how can you change your coping behaviors? Consider taking up yoga or taking time out of your day to meditate or work on deep breathing.
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    Make regular doctor appointments and monitor your blood pressure at home. Depending on how high your blood pressure is and its consistency, your appointment frequency will vary from those of another person. It's always better to err on the side of caution!
    • Find a doctor and stick with him/her. When your doctor knows you well, he/she can better treat you. The more they're familiar with your history, the easier it will be to get you on a path to lower numbers!
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    Take a supplement or other blood pressure medication. This is something that should only be done upon the advice of your doctor. Diuretics and beta-blockers are two of the most common that your doctor may recommend. Diuretics dispel excess salt and toxins from your body and beta blockers slow your heart rate down. But there's over half a dozen other varieties, too![7]
    • As for supplements, though they can be taken with the best of intentions, they're not always good ideas. Talk to your doctor beforehand before taking anything.
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    Get support. Friends and family can help you lower your blood pressure if you let them. They can back up your exercise plans or make appointments for you at the doctor's office. And they can keep junk out of the cupboards!
    • Blood pressure is such a common thing nowadays, it's a safe bet you know other people going through the same issues (especially since it's hereditary). If you can, find a workout or cooking buddy to make the good habits come a bit easier.


  • Get someone to exercise with you on a daily basis. It will make the process easier for you and you'll have someone to talk to.
  • Although there are some factors beyond your control, such as aging, you can control your weight and physical inactivity. Do something good for yourself.
  • Feeling a cat purring can help optimize your blood pressure. Consider petting your cat while it's on your lap. It is useful and pleasant for both of you!


  • Limit your carbohydrate intake including white breads, cakes and pastries, other starchy and sugary (and fatty) foods.
  • Do not overdo diet pills. They are unhealthy for your body.

Article Info

Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure