High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious condition affecting almost half of the population in the U.S. according to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) (1). Blood pressure represents the force which is used by the blood against your arteries’ walls. Arteries are blood vessels which carry blood high in oxygen from your heart towards different parts of your body (2).
High blood pressure reading is 120-129/less than 80 mm Hg – as is stated by the ACC. If left untreated, hypertension increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, aneurysm formation, and kidney failure. High blood pressure is also called a “silent killer” since, in most cases, it doesn’t show any visible symptoms until it’s considerably damaged the heart.
Hypertension is most commonly treated with medication and lifestyle changes. Prescription drugs greatly help control your blood pressure, but they do not work effectively if you have bad eating habits or if you’re not physically active. So, if you’re someone who has high blood pressure, here’s some good news: You can manage your hypertension in a natural way. By using some ingredients that you already have in your kitchen and making certain changes to your lifestyle, you can control your blood pressure successfully.
Many people don’t like the way it smells, but consuming garlic can help reduce high blood pressure in people with hypertension. 210 participants were included in one study and they were divided into seven groups. Five groups were given garlic tablets for 24 weeks, whereas two groups received placebo and Atenolol tablet. The results showed that both diastolic and systolic blood pressure were considerably reduced in participants who were treated with garlic tablets. Moreover, garlic tablets were proved to have exactly the same effect on blood pressure as Atenolol (3).
This super tasty spice has been used by people to treat different cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, for years. One review of nine trials which included 641 participants has found that taking cinnamon supplement considerably decreased systolic blood pressure by 5.39 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.6 mm Hg in participants. Additionally, cinnamon supplementation had a stronger effect on systolic blood pressure in participants who took less than 2 grams of cinnamon for longer than 12 weeks (4).
Chinese cat’s claw, also known as Uncaria rhynchophylla, has been used in traditional medicine in China to treat different conditions, including hypertension, for a long time. This plant contains hirsutine which in one study performed on rats has been shown to have the ability of dilating arteries and decreasing systolic blood pressure (5).
Besides containing different nutritive compounds, thyme contains rosmarinic acid which in one animal study has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure solely in animals having high blood pressure (6). However, more research is needed to determine whether this plant has the same effect in people.
This spice is a rich source of fiber, manganese, iron, calcium, and magnesium. One animal study has investigated how celery seeds affect blood pressure. The study indicated that the seeds reduced blood pressure in rats with hypertension, but didn’t have any impact on rats having normal blood pressure (7). Additionally, celery seeds contain fiber and one systematic review has suggested that increased intake of fiber can lower diastolic blood pressure (8).
This plant has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic practice to treat different diseases, including hypertension, for many years. In one animal study, this plant has been shown to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in rats through stimulating the inner lining of their veins, arteries, and capillaries to release nitric oxide (9).
However, one study which examined the effect of Bacopa monnieri on cognitive performance in older people found that while this plant may improve cognitive performance in these people, it had no effect whatsoever on blood pressure (10). Therefore, more research is needed so as to determine if Bacopa Monnieri can decrease blood pressure in people too.
This herb is an inseparable part of our diet due to its distinct flavor and nutritive compounds. Parsley has a good amount of carotenoids which are natural pigments and they have been shown to reduce blood pressure (11). Moreover, one animal study revealed that parsley extract lowered arterial, systolic, and diastolic pressure in rats (12). Nevertheless, more research is needed to establish whether parsley can lower blood pressure in people as well.
Ginger is known for its ability to regulate cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation, and control blood pressure. One study which included 4628 participants, aged 18-77 has found that consuming ginger lowered the risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease (13).
Besides being a rich source of nutritive compounds, in one piece of research, basil has been associated with one important health benefit – reduced level of blood pressure. Namely, basil contains eugenol – a compound that has been shown to dilate ear arteries and lower blood pressure. The research was performed on rats and it found that eugenol lowered systemic blood pressure in these animals. However, more research is needed to determine if this compound has the same effect in people (14).
You can also lower your blood pressure by making certain changes to your lifestyle. These changes include:
Consuming potassium is an effective way to lower high blood pressure as it enables your body to eliminate sodium and it relieves pressure on your veins, arteries, and capillaries. To get adequate amount of potassium, include more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods into your diet. Foods that are a rich source of potassium include:
Shedding pounds can play an important role in regulating blood pressure. One study has indicated that losing weight more than 5 percent considerably decreased high blood pressure at workplace. On the other hand, gaining weight raised the risk of hypertension (15).
Combining diet and exercise can lower high blood pressure. One study has indicated that exercising is related to reductions of about 2.0mm Hg in diastolic and 3.5mm Hg in systolic blood pressure. Participants which were asked to eat foods rich in fiber, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and fruits showed reductions of 3.0mm Hg in diastolic and 5.5mm Hg in systolic blood pressure. Moreover, losing 8 kilograms was associated with reductions of around 6.5mm Hg in diastolic and 8.5mm Hg in systolic blood pressure. Combining weight loss and exercise in patients being overweight and having hypertension was shown to reduce diastolic blood pressure by 7.9mm Hg and systolic blood pressure by 12.5mm Hg (16).
Doing physical exercises regularly improves the health of your heart. A healthy and strong heart needs less effort to pump blood, thereby reducing the force against the walls of your arteries, which decreases your blood pressure.
One study that included 1408 participants found that the blood pressure of participants decreased in the hours coming after an exercise session. Additionally, jogging was found to make the greatest changes to both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It was also found that walking doesn’t lower the diastolic blood pressure and that when participants exercised for longer, this resulted in greater reduction in their systolic blood pressure (17).
Stress is one of the main causes of hypertension. When you’re under stress for a longer period of time, this causes your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict. Additionally, when you’re under stress, you tend to eat more fast food and foods containing added sugars as well as drink alcohol or smoke more. These unhealthy habits have a negative impact on blood pressure. Research has shown that lowering your stress levels in the following two ways has a positive effect on blood pressure:
There are countless reasons why smoking is bad for your health. But, one of the main reasons is that smoking represents a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Smoking temporarily elevates blood pressure. Moreover, cigarettes contain chemicals that damage your veins, arteries, and capillaries.
However, more research is needed to establish a link between hypertension and this bad habit. But, what is known is that both hypertension and smoking increase the risk of heart disease – so giving up smoking may lower this risk.
Dietary salt has been considered as one of the main causes of hypertension for years. Moreover, one study has shown that decreasing salt intake reduces blood pressure, and as a result, it reduces diseases which are associated with blood pressure (20). Another study which enrolled 3230 participants has found that consuming less salt for four weeks or longer significantly reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and people who have normal blood pressure. Scientists suggest that consuming 5 to 6 grams of salt a day instead of 9 to 12 grams will greatly impact blood pressure (21).
In one study, consuming one soda daily resulted in increased blood pressure and a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome (22). Additionally, another study found that reduced intake of sugars and sugar-sweetened drinks was considerably related to lower blood pressure. So, eliminating such drinks and sugar from one’s diet can be an effective way to decrease high blood pressure (23).
One study included fifty people who practiced Raja yoga for five years and 50 people who didn’t. The results showed that mean values of diastolic and systolic blood pressure were less in participants who practiced meditation (24).
When it comes to deep breathing, participants in one study were divided into two groups. Those in the first group were asked to breathe deeply for 30 seconds, while participants in the second group were asked to rest without taking deep breaths. The results indicated that there was a greater reduction of systolic blood pressure in participants who practiced deep breathing (25).
It’s globally estimated that the risk for high blood pressure caused by consuming alcohol is 16 percent. Drinking alcoholic drinks regularly, regardless of the type, increases blood pressure. Men are recommended to drink 1-2 drinks daily, whereas the recommended dose for women is 1 drink per day in order to obtain any presumed cardiovascular benefits of consuming alcohol. People who have high blood pressure are advised to stick to those levels (26).
Berries are a rich source of polyphenols, which are compounds that have a positive effect on the heart. In one study, one group of participants were asked to consume foods low in polyphenol and another group was asked to eat foods high in these compounds. The results showed that increased intake of foods that are a rich source of polyphenols, such as berries and dark chocolate, affects positively the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in participants with high blood pressure (27).
Yes, eating a lot of chocolate will certainly have a negative effect on your heart, but eating small amounts of it will definitely help it. The reason for this is that cocoa and dark chocolate are packed with flavonoids. Flavonoids are compounds which are known for their ability to dilate blood vessels.
One review of 133 trials, which aimed to assess the effect of foods rich in flavonoids on cardiovascular disease, flow-mediated dilation as well as blood pressure, found that eating chocolate raised dilation and lowered diastolic and systolic blood pressure (28).
One study has found that foods which are loaded with calcium moderately reduce blood pressure (29).
Besides dairy products, other foods that are high in calcium include: Sardines, pilchards, beans, and leafy greens.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, plays an important role in controlling blood pressure. One study has revealed that taking folic acid supplement prevents cerebrovascular and cardiovascular events in patients diagnosed with high blood pressure and it lowers blood pressure (30).
One study has shown that increased intake of magnesium along with making positive changes to lifestyle and diet can help people having hypertension control their blood pressure (31). Additionally, one review indicated that 100 milligrams increase in intake of magnesium a day reduced the risk of high blood pressure by 5 percent (32).
One review of eight randomized controlled trials that included 614 patients diagnosed with hypertension has shown that vitamin C considerably reduced their blood pressure (33). Additionally, another piece of research has shown that increased concentration of vitamin C in the blood is associated with lower blood pressure (34).
One review of twenty-four studies which included 1697 participants indicated that consuming green tea or taking supplements containing green tea during 3 to 16 weeks considerably reduced both systolic and diastolic pressure in participants (35).
A note about high blood pressure natural remedies: Although the above-mentioned remedies are a helpful tool for treating hypertension, you should solely use them under your doctor’s supervision.