But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication.
Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.
1. Walk and exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
What’s more, doing even more exercise reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’ Health Study (5).
Bottom Line: Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps reduce it even further.
2. Reduce your sodium intake
Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods.
For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry (6).
One reason for this may be genetic differences in how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt (11).
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices, rather than salt.
Bottom Line: Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend lowering sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are salt-sensitive.
3. Drink less alcohol
Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world (12).
While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by negative effects (12).
In the US, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Bottom Line: Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.
4. Eat more potassium-rich foods
Potassium is an important mineral.
It helps your body get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessels.
Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake (13).
To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots
- Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
- Tuna and salmon
- Nuts and seeds
Bottom Line: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.
5. Cut back on caffeine
If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee before you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost.
However, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase (14).
Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don’t consume it regularly (19).
If you suspect you’re caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it lowers your blood pressure (20).
Bottom Line: Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, although for many people it does not cause a lasting increase.