What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
Being a combination of systolic and diastolic pressure, systolic pressure represents blood force, or pressure, while the heart is beating and diastolic pressure stands for blood pressure when the heart is at rest.
Systolic pressure is always the first or top measurement in a blood pressure reading. In a reading of 130/80, 130 represents systolic pressure and 80 represents diastolic pressure. In prehypertension, systolic numbers range from 120–129 and diastolic numbers are less than 80.
Blood pressure ranges include:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension: Systolic between 120–129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: Systolic between 130–139 or diastolic between 80–89
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
High blood pressure happens when the pressure on the arteries and blood vessels becomes too high and the arterial wall becomes distorted causing extra stress on the heart. Long term-high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Most people don’t even realise they have high blood pressure until serious problems arise.
Results of high blood pressure include:
- Arterial damage
- Heart failure
- Blocked or ruptured blood vessels
- Reduced kidney function
- Vision loss
- Loss of cognitive function: concentration, memory and ability to learn
- Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of metabolic disorders such as high cholesterol and insulin, atherosclerosis and increased waist size
Usually, there are no symptoms as blood pressure increases, but warning signs for very high blood pressure can include chest pains, confusion, headaches, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness or vision changes.
The top 5 tips to lower blood pressure are:
- Eat a Mediterranean-style diet: Due to foods such as olives and flax seeds, Mediterranean diets are very high in fruits, vegetables, sea foods and healthy omega-3 rich fat oils. A low-grain or even grain-free Mediterranean diet, naturally abundant with omega-3 foods, is ideal.
Some of the top foods you want in your Mediterranean diet are olive oil, flax seeds, wild-caught fish (especially salmon) and a lot of fruits and vegetables, all of which will help lower your blood pressure naturally.
- Start taking a high quality, low-mercury, fish oil supplement (1,000-2,000 mg daily): One of the main causes of high blood pressure is inflammation in the arteries over time. Study after study has shown consuming fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 fatty acids, reduces inflammation in the body. So, taking a high quality, 1,000 milligram fish oil dose every single day with your meals is one of the best natural ways to lower blood pressure.
- Use magnesium to relax everything (500 mg before bed): The mineral magnesium is great because it helps relax your blood vessels and can have an immediate impact on naturally lowering blood pressure (and so many people have a magnesium deficiency). 500 milligrams daily is a great starting dose to address your blood pressure issues.
- Pump up your potassium: An essential element, potassium — and high-potassium foods such as avocado and melon — helps counteract the effects of sodium and guard against hypertension. Some of the best potassium-rich foods include coconut water and bananas.
Coconut water is a great choice if you want something a little bit sweet to drink throughout the day. Another way to overcome potentially low potassium levels and naturally lower your blood pressure is to use coconut water as the liquid base for your superfood smoothie in the morning.
- Supplement with CoQ10: Coenzyme Q10, more commonly known as CoQ10, is an antioxidant critical for supporting heart health. It’s crucial if you’ve ever been on blood pressure or, in particular, cholesterol-lowering medication. Two-to-three hundred milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 per day is a great, natural remedy for high blood pressure.
Top Foods for a High Blood Pressure Diet
One of the best things you can do to lower your blood pressure is to eat a healthy, high blood pressure diet.
High fiber foods: Unprocessed foods high in fibre such as vegetables, fruits and seeds should be the basis of any healthy diet. If you’re wondering how can you stabilize your blood pressure, eating foods high in healthy fibre can definitely help.
- Low sodium foods: Excess salt consumption raises blood pressure. Limit your consumption to no more than 1,500–2,000 mg daily.
- High potassium foods:Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium and helps lower blood pressure. Include foods like melons, avocados and bananas.
- Omega-3 rich foods:Consume omega-3 rich foods like grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, chia and flax seeds to reduce inflammation.
Foods to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Dark Chocolate (look for a dark chocolate that contains at least 200 milligrams of cocoa phenols, which can reduce blood pressure), Garlic and Garlic Supplements, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Bananas, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Watermelon and Rock Melon.
Foods to Avoid for High Blood Pressure
- High sodium foods: Sodium raises blood pressure; avoid high sodium processed foods, pickles, olives or canned foods.
- Trans fats and Omega-6 fats: These fats increase inflammation and blood pressure and are found in packaged foods and conventional meats.
- Sugar: High sugar consumption is connected to high blood pressure.
- Caffeine: Too much caffeine can cause an increase in blood pressure.
- Alcohol: Narrows arteries and can increase blood pressure.
Essential Oils for Blood Pressure
Essential oils can lower blood pressure by dilating arteries, acting as antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and by decreasing emotional stress. The most effective essential oils for lowering blood pressure are Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage and Frankincense.
Herbs for Blood Pressure
There are certainly herbs that are beneficial in reducing blood pressure and these are Baical Skullcap, Coleus, Hawthorn Berries, Lime Flowers and Mistletoe.
As always, talk with your naturopath about how to lower blood pressure naturally and safely. Check with your doctor before making major diet and exercise changes. If you’re taking any medications, you’ll also want to make sure there are no drug interactions with any natural supplements you plan to take.