Many people think of alternative therapies as a way to replace conventional drugs or procedures. Crandall believes the best way to avoid taking drugs is by making lifestyle changes. For instance, to reduce your blood pressure, the best thing you can do is lose weight. A loss of just 10 pounds can translate to the elimination of one blood pressure medication, and people who bring their weight to their ideal level — which is usually what they weighed in high school — often get off blood pressure medications completely. First, think about the foods you eat. While food isn’t generally considered an “alternative treatment,” choosing the right foods can lower your blood pressure without drugs.
The following is a list of some of the unlikely foods that lower blood pressure. Because many of these foods are fiber-packed, they also help lower cholesterol. That’s a win-win combination.
- Asparagus is rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure. In fact, researchers have found that potassium citrate, which asparagus contains, is as effective as a potassium supplement. Asparagus is also a natural diuretic that rids the body of excess fluid, thereby reducing blood pressure.
- Hawthorn tea helps the heart function more efficiently and contains a beneficial flavonoid called proanthocyanidin, which causes the blood vessels to relax. I tell my patients to drink a cup daily.
- Oatmeal’s cholesterol-lowering benefits were shown in an 18-week controlled study in which researchers divided 88 people into two groups. One group ate oatmeal and the other group was given a whole-grain, oat-based cereal.
- Blueberries have long been known to be packed with antioxidants that ward off the cellular damage that comes along with aging. But their blood pressure-lowering capabilities are often overlooked. It’s the natural blue pigment, anthocyanin, that reduces high blood pressure. Blueberries also contain a form of pterostilbene, which is a relative of resveratrol, the beneficial compound found in wine. This chemical is also particularly helpful in blood pressure control, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions on High Blood Pressure Research conference, which was held last fall in Washington, D.C.
- Nonfat yogurt can also reduce blood pressure. In another study presented at that AHA conference, researchers tracked more than 14,000 adults without high blood pressure for 14 years and found those who ate nonfat yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.