Cut the Salt
Salt is not the problem when it comes to high blood pressure, per say, but rather its chemical component sodium. A little bit is fine, but too much sodium disrupts the balance of fluid in the body. To “flush” the excess salt from your system, water is drawn from surrounding tissues. The higher volume of liquid results in the heart working harder to pump the blood-hence, high blood pressure. Sure we use a lot of table salt on our foods, but still, that amount isn’t enough to account for the rise in blood pressure. Actually, only 6% of our salt consumption comes from the table shaker. The vast amounts of salt we consume daily (on average 1-2 generous teaspoons) couldn’t possibly be caused by the salt we sprinkle on our food alone. No you have to dig a little bit more to get to the source-processed foods. Such an extraordinary quantity of excess salt is added into processed foods it’s easy to stray over the healthy limit of sodium intake. A specific example-a single microwave “roast turkey” meal can have salt in the meat, the flavoring, the gravy, the stuffing, and the potatoes, to equal a whopping 5,400 milligrams of sodium. The utmost maximum daily limited is listed at 2,300 milligrams-even less for African Americans, men, and anyone over the age of 51. If you fall into one of those categories, you should only consume less than ½ teaspoon a day. Even foods that are labeled low-fat or low in sugar can still contain a boatload of sodium. Food companies do this to, logically, increase the value of their products. We get hooked on the flavor. Of all the flavors (sweet, sour, etc.,) it is the hardest to live without. How do you fight it to lower your blood pressure?
Sip Some Hibiscus
Cultures across the world have used hibiscus to naturally manage blood pressure, but it wasn’t until the past decade that studies were actually conducted that showed there was more to the remedy than just folklore. First, hibiscus acts as a diuretic, which draws sodium from the bloodstream, thus decreasing the pressure on the arterial walls. Even more interesting is how it can mimic angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors are a common group of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They work by hampering the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which plays a crucial role in the renin-angiotensin system- a hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance. As a result of this inhibition, blood vessels relax and blood volume is lowered, decreasing blood pressure. While certainly not as potent as those ACE drugs prescribed, it can still be surprisingly effective.
You will need…
-1-2 teaspoon of dried hibiscus
-1 cup of fresh, piping hot water
-Honey, lemon, or 1-2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
Bring water to a boil and add the hibiscus and cinnamon sticks (if using them) and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or lemon to taste, and drink 2-3 times daily. This also makes a lovely iced tea for those sticky hot summer days.
Drink Coconut Water
Coconut water is found inside the shell of green, unripe coconuts that retains its natural benefits in organic and raw form. It contains potassium and magnesium, both of which relate to regular muscle function, and of course, the heart is a big giant muscle. While there have been some limited studies on the effect of coconut water on hypertension, many people report anecdotally that it has helped lower blood pressure. In studies, it seemed to particularly affect systolic blood pressure, or the force that takes place when the heart pumps blood away from it. If you don’t have a problem with coconut water, it may prove to be a solid remedy for you.
You will need…
-8 ounces of fresh, organic coconut water
Drink 8 ounces 1-2 times daily. Morning is ideal if you drink it once a day, while morning and night works well if you opt to drink it twice a day.
Fabulous Fish Oil
Of course this is on here! You may roll your eyes because you’ve seen it everywhere, but fish oil and its bountiful omega-3 fatty acids are a beautiful thing when it comes to your heart. While studies have been wishy-washy on whether or not it actually reduces the risk of heart attacks or strokes, it has been viewed as successful when it comes to lowering blood pressure, while also reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Heart transplant patients have been given fish oil to reduce the risk of hypertension following a transplant.
You will need…
-High quality fish oil
I prefer liquid fish oil taken in orange juice to the pills which can have some…unpleasant side effects. Take the amount appropriate for you as indicated on the back of the bottle.