High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other serious health conditions. The good news is that it can be controlled through a few simple steps.
Here are some steps you can take to lower your blood pressure:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that help lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles around blood vessels. Fruits such as bananas, oranges and apples are especially good choices because they’re easy to eat while you’re on the go.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps reduce stress levels, which in turn helps control high blood pressure. It also improves the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently so that there is less strain on your heart during physical activity. Exercise should be done at least three times per week for 30 minutes each session at moderate intensity (not too hard or easy). Examples include brisk walking or cycling on level terrain.
- Cut back on salt intake. The best way to reduce your salt consumption is by following your taste buds: Avoid processed foods as much as possible — especially canned soups — which are loaded with sodium chloride (table salt). Instead, opt for low-sodium versions of canned goods such as beans, vegetables and soups; choose fresh fruits over fruit juices; and avoid fast-food restaurants because they typically use large amounts of salt in their food preparation processes.
- Eat foods that contain potassium. Potassium can help lower blood pressure by helping keep sodium and fluid levels in check in the body’s tissues and cells. Foods that contain potassium include bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, spinach and apricots.
- Avoid processed foods like canned soup, frozen meals, lunch meats and hot dogs. These items often contain large amounts of sodium. Instead, prepare healthy meals from scratch using fresh ingredients.