According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure. More importantly, 1 in 6 don’t even know it — and that’s a BIG problem!
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension (See blood pressure chart below) is called the “silent killer” for a reason — there are no obvious symptoms but it can result in heart attack, stroke and even death. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to maintain healthy blood pressure or get back to one, often without the need for medications.
Here is a quick summary of 5 ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure:
Exercise Regularly: Exercise alters the structure of arteries, decreases arterial stiffness, and regulates the autonomic nervous system.
Eat a healthy diet: One of the most recognized diets for reducing or maintaining a healthy blood pressure is the DASH diet
Maintain a healthy weight: Healthy weight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) under 25
Balance sodium/potassium: The sodium/potassium balance in your body plays a key role in the health and dilation of blood vessels and arteries.
Breathe deeply: Slow deep breathing has long been used in yoga, meditation, and relaxation practices to promote health, including healthy blood pressure.
What is Healthy Blood Pressure?
Healthy blood pressure is a reading of less than 120/80 mmHg.
Systolic blood pressure is the high number (120)
Diastolic blood pressure is the low number (80)
Systolic represents when your heart beats and pumps, pushing blood through your arteries, which increases the pressure. Diastolic represents when your heart relaxes so it can refill with blood for the next pump.
The healthy blood pressure reading (less than 120/80) is the same for both men and women.
Blood Pressure Chart
If you’re wondering what are the different blood pressure categories and what each reading means, the American Heart Association has published the following blood pressure chart to explain that.
More on normal blood pressure and blood pressure charts – read our article “What is normal blood pressure?”
Importance of Healthy Blood Pressure
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements are important. But in general, systolic has a greater focus because it’s the biggest risk factor for heart disease in people over 50 years of age.
Statistics show that every 20 mmHg increase in systolic or 10 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure, doubles your risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease.
Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease, is a narrowing of the arteries. When this happens, your risk of heart attack dramatically increases.
5 Key Ways to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure Naturally (or Get Back to One)
While you may still require medication, there are natural ways to maintain healthy blood pressure or get back to a healthier range.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise alters the structure of arteries, decreases arterial stiffness, and regulates one of the most important blood pressure control centers in your body — the autonomic nervous system.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce blood pressure by an average 5-7 mmHg. Strength training reduces it an average 2-3 mmHg.
Even small reductions like these equate to big benefits for you:
14% decreased risk of stroke
9% decreased risk of coronary heart disease
7% decreased risk of death
And it doesn’t matter if you’re 80 or even 90 years of age, regular exercise is beneficial.
How much exercise do you need to do?
Around 30 minutes per day is recommended but as little as 15 minutes a day of low intensity activity like walking provides benefits. If you struggle to fit in 30 minutes at one time, break it into three 10-minute sessions, as this is equally effective.
2. Eat a healthy diet
One of the most recognized diets for reducing or maintaining a healthy blood pressure is the DASH diet. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” Studies show a DASH diet can reduce blood pressure by an average 10 mmHg systolic and 5 mmHg diastolic.
The DASH diet consists of whole foods low in saturated fat and overall fat, low in sodium and low in sugar. It is based on high fiber foods with a particular focus on consuming a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains. It also includes fish, poultry, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
When you gain weight, a whole range of metabolic changes occurs in your body that influences blood pressure levels. A healthy weight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) under 25. Overweight is 25 to 29.9. Obese is above 30.
Use the following chart to calculate your average BMI:
Chart courtesy of National Institutes of Health
Making changes to your diet and exercise routine will help you maintain a healthy weight or lose a little weight if you need to. According to research, an 11 to 22-pound weight loss achieves an average blood pressure reduction of 6 mmHg.
4. Balance sodium/potassium
To control blood pressure, you may have heard that it’s important to reduce your sodium intake, and this is absolutely true. People generally consume sodium through “added” salt in the diet, which is mainly found in processed and packaged foods.
When there are lots of processed and packaged foods in your diet, guess what happens?
Fresh foods (full of potassium) get displaced!
The sodium/potassium balance in your body plays a key role in the health and dilation of blood vessels and arteries. When there’s an imbalance, blood pressure levels can rise. And the imbalance is usually too much sodium and not enough potassium.
Studies have shown that an increase of 250 mg per day in potassium may lower blood pressure by 2-3 mmHg. However, more is better as the recommended potassium intake is 4700 mg per day.
Examples of foods high in potassium include:
Beet greens (½ cup cooked) – 654 mg potassium
Lima beans (¼ cup) – 767 mg
Banana (1 medium) – 422 mg
Swiss Miss cocoa mix (1 envelope, no added sugar) – 405 mg
Baked potato (1 medium with skin) – 332 mg
Pistachio nuts (1 ounce, 49 kernels) – 291 mg
Raw pumpkin seeds (1 ounce, 85 seeds) – 261 mg
Kidney beans (¼ cup) – 186 mg
Tomato paste (1 tablespoon) – 162 mg
Sundried tomatoes (4 pieces) – 138 mg
Cocoa (unsweetened, 1 tablespoon) – 135 mg
Spinach (½ cup cooked) – 83 mg
5. Breathe deeper
Slow deep breathing has long been used in yoga, meditation, and relaxation practices to promote health, including healthy blood pressure. But there is a much easier, more effective way to practice deep breathing — use our RESPeRATE device.
Deep breathing practice can be hard to do on your own. So the RESPeRATE device acts like your personal coach. And it’s super easy to use!
You strap a breathing sensor around your upper abdomen, connect the sensor to the device, sit back in a chair and relax with some headphones on. Then let the RESPeRATE device do its work.
The RESPeRATE device will create a personalized melody for you to listen to. As you listen, an amazing thing happens — your body naturally follows the rhythms, guiding you toward synchronized, deeper, slower breathing.
All you have to do is use the device for 15 minutes, at least 4 times per week to achieve results. But if you can use it daily, that’s even better.
As for RESPeRATE’s effects on blood pressure…
The results of 16 studies combined show a weighted average blood pressure reduction of 10 mmHg systolic and 5 mmHg diastolic. And the collective evidence supports an even greater reduction for older adults over 65 years (16/7 mmHg), and in those who have an initial systolic blood pressure above 160 mmHg (17/7 mmHg).
Use these 5 strategies to help you maintain or get back to healthy blood pressure:
Exercise for 30 minutes most days.
Eat a healthy diet with a focus on quality, whole food sources.
Aim to achieve a healthy BMI.
Focus on eating less packaged and processed foods and more natural, whole food sources to achieve a better sodium/ potassium balance.
Use RESPeRATE at least 4 times per week – it’s a clinically proven device for natural blood pressure control.
Written byJedha Dening Jedha is a qualified nutritionist (MNutr), researcher, author, freelance writer, and founder of type 2 diabetic nutrition site.
She has millions of words published in the health industry across various print and online publications. Having been in the field for over 15 years, she’s incredibly passionate about the latest research surrounding nutrition and health.
About RESPeRATE – Lower Blood Pressure Naturally.
RESPeRATE is the only non-drug, FDA-Cleared device for lowering blood pressure naturally. It is clinically proven, doctor recommended and has no side effects.
RESPeRATE lowers blood pressure by relaxing constricted blood vessels which cause high blood pressure. RESPeRATE does so by harnessing the therapeutic power of slow-paced breathing with prolonged exhalation in a way that is virtually impossible to achieve on your own. All you have to do is breathe along with RESPeRATE’s guiding tones.