While 1 out of 3 people suffers from hypertension, the direct cause of the condition remains largely veiled. Of course, genetics, race, and age do play a part, but evidence shows smoking, overweight, alcohol, and stress also elevate blood pressure. In addition to controlling these risk factors, try the following tips:
- Balance nutrients. Studies show that potassium deficiencies can raise blood pressure. Most Americans only get about half the daily recommendation of 4700 mg. To bump up your intake, enjoy bananas, tofu, beans, and potatoes. But roast or bake the veggies — boiling can leach minerals into the water.
- Put down the salt shaker. The going wisdom contends a sodium–rich diet raises both systolic and diastolic numbers, which should measure around 120/80 if normal. Go easy on high–salt condiments like soy sauce (which contains well over 1000 mg/tablespoon) and ketchup. Avoid high sodium canned and dehydrated foods. Stick to fresh meats over processed ones. Go with unsalted butter. And when you’re enjoying nuts, purchase unsalted varieties or brush off the salty granules with your fingers.
- Know the effects of pharmaceuticals and supplements. Herbal supplements like ginseng, ephedra, licorice, and feverfew have been linked to hypertension. Hormonal birth control products, decongestants, acetaminophen, and antidepressants are all known to cause a surge in blood pressure. On the flipside, garlic and flaxseed may help lower your readings.