Many Israelis struggle with high blood pressure, and amid the current war with Hamas known as Operation Swords of Iron, factors such as lack of sleep, stress, and poor dietary choices can further contribute to any problems.
The following recommendations are vital for lowering your blood pressure without medication or excessive salt restriction. Follow these diet and lifestyle tips to naturally improve your blood pressure.
1. Cut back on processed carbohydrates or sugar:
Elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can contribute to hypertension. Go for carbohydrates from natural sources like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fruits instead of processed grains or sugars. Adjust your carbohydrate intake based on your level of physical activity.
2. Increase mineral intake:
Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are more important for reducing blood pressure than simply limiting salt intake. Consume foods rich in potassium such as potatoes, bananas, and tomatoes. Include calcium-rich foods like dairy products, fish with bones, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. Boost magnesium intake with foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, leafy greens, molasses, dark chocolate, and bananas.
3. Eat dairy from grass-fed animals (if you are not lactose intolerant):
Dairy products from grass-fed animals contain vitamin K2, which plays a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Foods rich in vitamin K2 include butter, ghee, hard cheeses, and chicken liver. Taking a vitamin K2 supplement can also be beneficial.
4. Have about 450 grams of omega-3-rich fish per week:
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can lower the risk of hypertension and heart disease. It’s safer to obtain omega-3 fatty acids from fish rather than from supplements or fish oil. Fatty fish varieties include salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and herring.
5. Drink tea:
Certain types of tea can effectively lower blood pressure. These include hibiscus tea, hawthorn tea, gotu kola tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Aim to consume 2-3 cups per day, preferably a combination of these tea varieties.
6. Include beets in your diet:
Beets are rich in nitrates, which convert into nitric oxide, leading to blood vessel dilation and a decrease in blood pressure. Other nitrate-rich vegetables include celery root, Chinese cabbage, endive, fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, parsley, lettuce, spinach, and arugula. Studies have shown that beetroot juice can lower blood pressure.
7. Go out in the Sun:
Sunlight helps produce nitric oxide in the blood, which can help lower blood pressure. Aim to spend 20-30 minutes in the Sun daily without sunscreen.
8. Reduce stress levels:
Chronic stress is a well-known cause of high blood pressure. Incorporate daily practices like meditation and deep breathing to effectively lower blood pressure.
9. Prioritize good sleep:
Insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality increases the risk of high blood pressure. Sleep apnea can also contribute to hypertension, so it’s essential to get checked and receive treatment if necessary. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
10. Engage in regular physical activity:
All forms of physical activity can lead to a decrease in blood pressure. Endurance exercises such as walking and cycling, as well as strength training like weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, are beneficial. Additionally, minimize sitting time and try to stand for at least half of the day, such as using a standing desk. Aim for 10,000 steps daily.
Dr. Dalit Dreman-Medina is an expert in family medicine, integrative medicine, and functional medicine.