It is well known that high blood pressure or hypertension is an important risk factor for heart disease. It increases the risk of other conditions too. Such as stroke, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease. If you know that your blood pressure is high you can do something about it. Having your blood pressure checked takes just a minute or so. Yet in the UK, more than 5 million adults may be unaware their readings are too high.
Some people with higher readings may need prescription medication. But, natural remedies can prevent or even reverse hypertension in some people. Research confirms that herbal remedies and some simple dietary changes can help.
Dietary changes to lower blood pressure
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are the sort of fats in fatty fish. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you increase the amount of fatty fish you eat to 500g per week you can reduce your risk of heart disease. Fatty fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.
Yet, recent studies show that avoiding sugar may be even more important than changing the fat in your diet. Sugar consumption increases the risk of hypertension. What’s more, switching to artificial sweeteners may not be the answer. Studies show consuming artificially sweetened drinks is not a healthy choice. These sweeteners are just as likely to cause hypertension as sugar.
It turns out that a better option is to eat more vegetables. Choose vegetables high in nitrates, such as beetroot, spinach, lettuce, rocket and celeriac. The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide. We know this chemical dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure naturally. Part of the conversion from nitrates to nitric oxide is due to the good bacteria found in the mouth. And studies show that regular use of mouthwash can increase blood pressure. Even if only by a small amount.
Herbs and hypertension
Garlic is one of the most researched herbs. Its health benefits are well known. Garlic is one of the most popular herbs used for blood pressure control. It offers a safe and effective approach for existing hypertension. Its impact is likely to be modest but significant.
Green tea lowers blood pressure in people with moderate and high readings. Several meta-analysis studies confirm that the effect is small but significant. Green tea consumption also reduces both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Hibiscus tea, though less well known also reduces blood pressure. A 2015 meta-analysis showed hibiscus tea reduced both systolic and diastolic pressure. The effect was significant though researchers suggested further trials were necessary.
Hawthorn is a traditional remedy for heart problems. The berries, leaves and flowers provide a slow-acting tonic for the heart. It lowers blood pressure but increases the force of heart contraction.
It’s not that any single change alone would be enough to bring hypertension down to a safe level. But together their effects can add up. Perhaps with the addition of some stress management techniques and some regular physical exercise.