While blood pressure medications are necessary in some cases, you can beat high blood pressure in the same way you beat heart disease — by changing the way you eat, move (or don’t move!), and handle stress.
First, get your diet under control. When it comes to fighting hypertension, diet is the key. Every 10 pounds of weight you lose can get you off one blood pressure medication. Embrace a plant-based diet that consists of whole foods and is free from processed foods.
Why is processed food the enemy? Because it’s packed with salt, and when you consume salt, your body retains fluid. This makes your heart work harder, and raises blood pressure.
Here’s what you need to understand: Most of the salt we consume does not come from the salt shaker. It’s estimated that 70 percent comes from foods that contain “hidden sodium.” They may not even taste salty, but they are.
These include common foods such as breads, frozen dinners, cereals, soups, and ketchup. Even foods that taste sweet can contain high levels of sodium.
The easiest way to eliminate this hidden sodium is to fill your shopping cart from the outer perimeter of the supermarket, which is where you’ll find the fruits, vegetables, organic eggs, and non-fat dairy products.
Instead of using a salt shaker, season your fresh ingredients with lemon juice, lime juice, and herbs. Your food will be tastier, and your blood pressure will plummet.
You can also walk off high blood pressure. Scores of studies show that exercise is vital to lowering blood pressure. Research published in May 2012 in the journal Hypertension followed 6,300 highly fit people ranging in age from 20 to 80 for nearly five years. Of this group, one-third had a parent with high blood pressure.
The researchers found that fit subjects had a 34 percent lower risk of developing hypertension than people who also had a family history of high blood pressure but were not as physically fit.
One of the best ways to get fit is to walk. Do what I do: walk one hour a day. You’ll reduce your risk of high blood pressure, and you’ll prevent heart disease at the same time.