It is important to stay healthy and maintain a normal blood pressure, which is the force that circulates blood throughout our bodies. Normal blood pressure lies between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg. If your blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg, you have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or if you are at the risk of getting high blood pressure, you may want to change your diet and exercise in order to get your blood pressure in the normal range. Blood pressure that is too high can put an excessive strain on your heart, blood vessels, and other organs.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be prescribed medicines to help you manage your condition. However, if you are at risk for high blood pressure or have high blood pressure and would like to lower your blood pressure to normal amounts, you can do this through making simple lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and exercise.
Understanding Blood Pressure
Blood pressure consists of two numbers, the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. Both numbers are measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. Systolic pressure refers to the force your heart exerts to pump blood around your body. Diastolic pressure refers to the resistance in blood flow in your blood vessels.
Here are the general blood pressure ranges:
- Low blood pressure – If your blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg, you have low blood pressure.
- Ideal blood pressure – An ideal blood pressure lies between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.
At high risk for developing high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg, you are at a high risk of developing high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure – If your blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg, then your blood pressure is high.
Having a high blood pressure is not healthy. A high blood pressure can increase your risk of getting several health conditions.
Here are some conditions you can get from having high blood pressure:
- aortic aneurysms
- heart attacks
- heart disease
- heart failure
- kidney disease
- peripheral arterial disease
- vascular dementia
Making attempts to lower your blood pressure can benefit your health. Lowering your blood pressure can help lower your risk of getting those health conditions.
Monitoring Blood Pressure
You should monitor your blood pressure in order to keep track of where it generally is. An adult 40 years old and above should monitor their blood pressure at least once in every 5 years. If you are at risk for high blood pressure, you should monitor your blood pressure more, and reduce the amount of factors that put you at high risk.
Here are some factors which may put you at risk for high blood pressure:
- you are of African or Caribbean descent
- you are over 65 years old
- you are overweight or obese
- you do not exercise
- you drink too much alcohol and/or coffee, and other caffeinated drinks
- you have a high salt intake
- you have a low intake of fruits and vegetables
- you have a relative with high blood pressure
- you smoke
- your sleep is inadequate or of poor quality
Maintaining Blood Pressure
Here are some things you can do if you would like to get your blood pressure within the normal range:
- eat a healthy diet and reduce your salt intake
- if you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight through improving your diet and exercise
- reduce the amount of alcohol you drink
- reduce the amount of caffeine you get from coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- stop smoking
- try to get an adequate amount of sleep
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be prescribed medicine to help you manage your condition.
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure
If you would like to lower your blood pressure, you should try to make your diet healthier. You can do this by making healthier food choices and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake in general.
Here are some foods you can eat to lower your blood pressure.
Foods to Increase
Incorporating beets in your intake can help you reduce your blood pressure in the short and long term. Increase your intake of beets by consuming a glass of beet juice a day, or by adding beets in your salads.
Bananas are a good source of potassium. Potassium can help with hypertension. Eating bananas can help you reduce your blood pressure. You can also eat other foods with a high amount of potassium, such as avocados, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and tuna.
Eating berries can lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Increase your intake of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Eating chocolate and chocolate flavored foods can be good for you! Food that is rich in flavanols can help you reduce your blood pressure and lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Get your dairy from good sources, such as yogurt and skim milk.
Increasing your intake of flaxseed can help you lower your blood pressure.
Eating leafy greens can help you lower your blood pressure. Increase your intake of arugula, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard, and spinach.
Oatmeal, without the artificial flavors and added sugars, can be a good source of fiber for a relatively low amount of fat. Increasing your fiber intake can help you lower your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.
Nuts and Seeds
Pistachios are great at reducing your blood pressure. Try to eat at least one serving of pistachios a day. Seeds contain a good amount of potassium and magnesium. Try to increase your intake of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. When choosing seeds in the grocery, read the nutrition label to check if there is any added salt.
Things to Avoid and Reduce
Try to avoid eating salt, as salt can raise your blood pressure. Try to reduce your alcohol intake. Regularly drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time. Try to reduce your intake of caffeine from coffee and other caffeinated drinks.