Naturally Lower Blood Pressure – 8 Simple Steps

Blood pressure. That dreaded squeazy cuff that makes your arm go numb and brings either good news or bad. Thanks to genetics and diet I myself have been brought bad news about my blood pressure as soon as I hit 20 years old. But at such a young age does one really want to go on blood pressure medications? Usually the answer is no. Every medication a person takes is going to have some kind of side effect. The more medications you are on the more complications you are at risk for and the snowball effect starts piling up.

How then can we at least get our blood pressure down without taking some darned pills? Here are eight steps you can take to help naturally lower blood pressure. It wont be easy, but modifying these things can help other things in your life as well such as weight, heart disease, organ damage, and other risks associated with high blood pressure.

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1. Weight loss. I know you were dreading to hear those words as much as I was but it is a proven fact! Losing just 10 lbs can make a different on your blood pressure. Getting below an obese BMI or even below an overweight BMI will DRAMATICALLY help your blood pressure! As we know losing weight is a lifestyle change. You have to change how you eat, what you eat, and what you do every day! For more information on weight loss, check out some of my articles here.

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2. SALT SALT SALT. By simply changing what you eat, you can literally change your life. Salt has been known to raise blood pressure in most individuals that are salt suceptible. By lowering the amount of salt you consume, and increasing the amount of fresh veggies and fruit you eat, you can lower your blood pressure by at least 2 to 8 mm of Hg pretty much guaranteed. Check out my article on the top foods loaded with Salt and try to avoid them. Try adding bigger servings of vegetables and fruit to whatever you are eating and lowering your consumption of processed, packaged foods.

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3. Eating Right. Tagging off #2, by eating more fruits and vegetables to your diet, consuming more whole grains, as well as low fat dairy products you can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm of Hg!!! That is incredible! The key thing is to make your veggie portions bigger and your saturated fat contents smaller. Add more broccoli to your dinner plate and less steak. You can still have the fun stuff, just eat a little less of it. As a personal goal to help myself, I try to eat 3 salads a week.For one of my favorite side salad recipes, click here!

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4. Exercise! Just 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day or even a few days a week can make a huge difference in your blood pressure and overall health. That may seem like a lot, but walking the dog, walking on your lunch work breaks, parking far away and many other simple activities can help increase your daily exercise routine. My advice is make it something you enjoy. Walk your kids to the bus stop. Walk your dog who needs some exercise too, heck, even walk with your kids, and make a habit out of talking about the day before starting dinner or homework. Make it happen!

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5. Alcohol. Interesting fact. Low amounts of alcohol such as one drink a day for all women, and men over the age of 65, or up to two drinks a day for men under 65 can lower the blood pressure by 2-4 mm of Hg according to the mayo clinic. When you start consuming more than that, like many of us do, you run into problems and you can increase your blood pressure as well as reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.

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6. Potassium. Potassium has an indirect relationship with sodium. On the cellular level, for every potassium that goes in, a sodium ion goes out of the cell. On a larger scale, such as our entire body, the more potassium rich foods you consume, the more it can help combat sodium and high blood pressure.

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7. Cut back on smoking and caffeine. Both of these vices have been known to cause higher blood pressure. Smoking can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm of Hg for an hour after you smoke, according to the mayo clinic. A pack a day can be continuous high blood pressure. As for caffeine, some people are susceptible to caffeine with their blood pressure, the more you drink, the more the risk. Try to stick to 1-2 cups of coffee a day or 1 small energy drink if you must.

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8. Stress. This one is the no brainer that we have all heard, but it is still just as important. If you are in a high stress job, or home environment, it can have a significant effect on your health. Try stress reducing techniques such as 10 minutes of yoga or exercise a day, or a few deep breathing techniques.

All in all, lowering your blood pressure is going to depend on you and how bad you want to change your health. Just trying a few of these simple steps can have a dramatic effect on your heath, and many of them go hand in hand such as eating right, exercising and losing weight. Give a few of these a try and you would be amazed at what you can do.

Keep up the good work,

~HealthyGirl

Salt Alternatives For a Healthier You

So you get the news from the dreaded blood pressure cuff. You still have high blood pressure. Your doctor tells you that you have to change your diet. Cut back on the beloved salt. They threaten you with big scary words associated with high blood pressure such as STROKE. KIDNEY DAMAGE. VISION LOSS. ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. HEART FAILURE.

How and where do you even begin? First I would start by cutting back on some common foods with high salt content. You can see some of the top offenders in my other article here. If you have been paying some attention, you have probably figured out that the best way to avoid salt is to start making food yourself instead of buying frozen meals, eating out, and eating all that processed food. Well how the heck are you supposed to flavor your food now?  Below I have created a list of great ways to season your food without using salt. Give some of these a try and let me know how it turns out!

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1. Mrs Dash Original Salt Free Blend {affiliate}
Most of us have come across this salt alternative. Mrs. Dash is a great place to begin for those trying to avoid salt. All of the different Mrs. Dash varieties are salt free and offer unique flavors to spice up your food.

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2. Garlic. I am a huge fan of garlic. For the simplest method, try using garlic powder. You can also buy jars of minced garlic (which typically do not have salt). The best way of course is to get fresh garlic and chop it up yourself or use a Garlic Press like the one I use. {affiliate}
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3. Lime is a great alternative to salt. Just squeeze a quarter of a lime over your entire dish just before serving. Stir and serve! Lemon is also  a good option to squeeze over your favorite dishes. Try lime over more of your spicy dishes, while using lemon on your more mellow creations.

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4. No Salt. No salt is a salt alternative for those of use who just can’t live without a salt taste. This product is made with potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. Definitely worth a try!

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5. Sea Salt or Kosher Salt?? Depending on where you look, some sources like the american heart association will tell you that sea salt or kosher salt may have less sodium than regular table salt because of the larger crystals, while others such as the mayo clinic say you get the same amount of sodium in all of them. As the results are inconclusive at this time, it is likely best to use all salt products in moderation.

What salt alternatives have you tried?

Happy Salting,

~HealthyGirl

 

Top Saltiest Foods You Should Avoid

Currently the American Heart Association recommends 1500 mg of salt daily or LESS. One measly little TEASPOON of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. So what? Why does it matter? According to the CDC, the average american consumes almost 3500 milligrams of salt a day. That is over double what we should be consuming. The biggest concern with a high sodium diet is high blood pressure. Over years, high blood pressure can lead to major health problems such as kidney damage, vision loss, stroke and heart failure. Changing your eating habits now can have a big impact on your future health.

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So How on earth are you ever going to kick your dearest companion…SALT?

The two biggest places we consume our salt from is processed foods and eating out. Look up any package of Pasta Roni or Hamburger Helper and you will be astounded by the amount of salt. How about a jar of Salsa? You would be surprised the foods that can be loaded with salt, and dont even bother picking up a package of ramen noodles again. One package of ramen noodles contains over 1500 mg of sodium!

So first, what are the saltiest foods one should avoid when trying to achieve a low sodium diet?

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1. Fast food. Just a simple double cheeseburger and fries will set you back 1230 mg . In fact eating out in general is going to put a lot of sodium in your diet. Try to look at the sodium content of the menu before ordering. Items that have to be made fresh will probably be your best bet.

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2. Table salt. Of course you knew this was coming. Just dont even add it to your food when you cook. Stay away. In fact did you know that baking soda and baking powder are also high in salt? For some salt alternatives, check out my other article here!

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3. Dressing and Sauces. Now I’m taking away your SAUCE? I know I know it breaks my heart too. Your beloved terayaki sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and steak sauce are all packed with sodium. Time to get with the kids and start singing “Let it go” as you clean out the cabinets.

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4.Cured meat. Meat is cured with SALT! Our favorite foods such as salami and bacon are now a rare treat. This also applies to many of the cold cut varieties we use on our sandwiches. Welcome to the world of adulthood. Might as well pass the bacon to the dog.

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5. Pickeld foods. Relish, saurkraut, pickles, jalapenos. All of these foods are processed with salt and carry a hefty sodium content. Try to eat in moderation.

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6. Canned foods. Canned beans, veggies, pretty much all canned foods are going to be loaded with salt. Try to stick with frozen vegetables and raw beans ( I know I know its no fun to cook them yourself). If you must use canned veggies or beans, I recommend rinsing them lightly in a strainer if you can. Other canned items like soups and broths may have lower sodium options, which is always worth a try.

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7. Roasted nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and many nuts are salt roasted and can pack a hefty salt punch. Try eating pre shelled sunflower seeds, or unsalted/raw nuts.

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8. Packaged soups. This is your typical ramen noodles, cup of noodles, maruchen ramen. So easy. So cheap! Its hard to stay away! However, simply cooking the noodles themselves without the sauce and making your own seasoning might be a better option.

The bottom line is, if you want to reduce the sodium you are consuming, these saltiest foods have to be eaten in moderation or avoided completely. Drinking plenty of water, using salt alternatives and eating foods high in potassium can help combat high blood pressure and the many complications that stem from it.

Happy Eating!

~HealthyGirl