10 Tips to Prevent and Manage High Blood Pressure

Published on September 18, 2017 by Dr. Jennifer Marion ND

  1. Quit Smoking

Smoking not only damages your lungs and other organs, it also increases blood pressure.

2. Moderate Alcohol Intake

Men should consume no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day and women no more than one.

3. Exercise

It is well known that exercise is beneficial for all aspects of health, including blood pressure.  Try and exercise for at least 30 minutes 4 days of the week.

4. Diet 

Try and keep sodium intake under 2400 mg of sodium per day and add potassium and magnesium rich foods to your diet (see below for examples).

5. Reduce Stress

Stress can wreak havoc on both physical and mental health.  Find an activity that helps you relieve stress like: yoga, meditation, deep breathing, time in nature, colouring, whatever it may be. Start with just 5-10 minutes a day and slowly work your way up.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body and, unfortunately, the majority of the population is not getting enough. It is a cofactor in over 300 physiological processes.  It is important for muscle function, energy production, blood sugar regulation and also for maintaining healthy blood pressure.  When we think of Magnesium, we should think relaxation.  Not only is it important for skeletal muscle relaxation, but it is also important for relaxing the smooth muscle of blood vessels.  Those who suffer from hypertension are often prescribed a type of pharmaceutical known as a Calcium Channel Blocker (CCB).  When calcium enters a cell, it causes an action potential which leads to contraction of muscle. CCB’s prevent calcium from entering the vascular smooth muscle cells, which inhibits contraction of these cells.  The result is relaxation of this smooth muscle and a reduction in systemic vascular resistance, one of the main culprits that leads to hypertension.  Magnesium is a natural CCB which is why it is excellent for skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle relaxation.  Some good dietary sources of magnesium are: spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds and dark chocolate.

7. Potassium

Potassium is another important mineral for muscle relaxation.  In order for any muscle in the body to relax, potassium, which is mostly found inside of cells, needs to leave the cells.  If we don’t have adequate potassium in our diets, or through supplementation, our cells can’t relax properly because there is not enough potassium inside of our cells to leave the cells when we want them to relax.  Good dietary sources of potassium are bananas, avocado, potatoes baked with skin, prune juice, plums, lima beans and spinach.

8. CoQ10

This nutrient is important for every cell in the body.  It plays a vital role in energy production and also acts as an antioxidant.  The body can make Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), however, our ability to make this important compound lessens as we age.  CoQ10 is essential for the heart and is often used to treat many cardiovascular conditions. Studies have shown a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure with supplementation of CoQ10

9. Taurine

This is a semi-essential amino acid derived from two sulphur containing amino acids cysteine and methionine.  Dietary sources of taurine are eggs, meat and seafood.  Low plasma sulphur levels have been found in hypertensive individuals.  Several studies have shown that diets rich in taurine have a cardio-protective effect regardless of genetics or ethnicity.  In a 12-week study with 120 pre-hypertensive participants (systolic blood pressure 120-139 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure 80-89 mmHg) taurine supplementation significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 7.2mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 4.7mmHg.  This study also found that, like Magnesium, Taurine has a calcium channel blocking effect causing vascular smooth muscle to relax.  The study suggests that the sulphur in taurine plays a major role in its therapeutic action.

10. Fish Oil 

Fish oil has many health benefits and studies have shown that it can help to reduce high blood pressure.  High dietary or supplemental omega 3 intake has a beneficial effect on all cardiovascular health.  In 2017 the American Heart Association recommended daily intake of fish oil for those with cardiovascular disease.  It also has many cognitive benefits.

Select References:

Burke, BE., Neunschwander, R., Olson RD. (2001). Randomized double-blind, placebo controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension.  The Southern Medical Journal, 2001;94:1112-1117.

Hidgon, J. (2001). Potassium. Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University. Retrieved from: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/potassium

Prousky, J. (2008). Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. Toronto, ON: CCNM Press.

Sun, Q., Wang, B., Li, Y., Sun, F., Li, P., Xia, W.,…Zhu, Z. (2016).  Taurine Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Vascular Function in Prehypertension.  Hypertension, 2016;67: 541-549. DOI:https://doiorg.ccnm.idm.oclc.o...

Hypertension Canada.(2017). Retrieved from https://www.hypertension.ca/en/

(2017, Aug 31) Fish Oil. Natural Medicines Database.  Retrieved from: https://naturalmedicines-thera...

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