What causes high blood pressure?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a dangerous condition whereby your heart works overtime to pump the blood around your body. Eventually it can result in conditions such as kidney disease, stroke or heart failure. Causes can include genetic or environmental factors, and you can read a detailed report at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Allicin, the active compound in garlic, has been proven through medical studies to be effective at lowering blood pressure. Allicin is destroyed through cooking so you would have to consume around four raw garlic cloves each day to feel the benefits. Therefore, to prevent a permanent garlicy odour, it is best to take it as a supplement instead. Garlic is also a blood thinner so may interact with certain medications. Always check with your doctor before introducing new supplements into your diet.
Potassium, along with a number of other dietary factors, is said to be one of the top influential deficiencies linked to high blood pressure. Bananas are high in potassium and it is thought that eating just two bananas a day can significantly help to stabilise your blood pressure. You can eat bananas whole or add them to a super potassium rich smoothie!
- Add one banana, a handful of spinach, an apricot and a slice of honeydew melon into a blender along with half a cup of water.
- Blend until you get a smooth consistency and enjoy.
Neem has long been used as a pest repellent all over the world. It also contains a compound called nimbidin which appears to work in the body as an antihistamine, dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
- Make neem tea by steeping fresh or dried leaves in hot water for 5 minutes.
- Strain out the leaves and enjoy.
- Neem leaf capsules are also available for if the tea is too bitter for you.
Exercise is something that many of us overlook. Even for people suffering from high blood pressure, doing some regular moderate exercise to get your heart pumping even harder can bring about an almost guaranteed improvement. A half hour walk each day, or a twenty minute jog can work wonders for your overall health. If you are new to exercise, start out gently, and always warm up and cool down.
Cayenne pepper works as a vasodilator so it encourages blood vessels to expand which improves blood flow. It can be taken as a raw spice or as a supplement.
- Mix a teaspoon of cayenne pepper into a mug of hot water. You can add a spoon of honey for a sweeter taste.
- If you find it too spicy to drink this way, you can take supplements
Hibiscus tea is thought to help lower blood pressure due to its diuretic properties. It also seems to inhibit the release of blood vessel constricting hormones. It is easy to grow at home and doesn’t appear to come with a risk of side effects, which makes hibiscus a handy blood pressure remedy straight from your garden.
- Tea can be made with 4-5 teaspoons of dried and crushed hibiscus flowers.
- Steep for 5-10 minutes and strain.
- Hibiscus also comes as a supplement for extra convenience.
Not only fantastic at keeping you rehydrated, fresh coconut water has also been shown in studies to help lower blood pressure; the potassium it contains helps to keep the sodium levels balanced in your blood. Although it is possible to buy commercially packaged coconut water these days, it comes processed so it doesn’t retain its natural benefits. It is best to source the young, green whole coconuts as these contain a whole array of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.
How to prevent high blood pressure
A change in diet, to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods high in potassium, is the first step to controlling your blood pressure problems. Exercise is another extremely important factor—positive results can be seen within a couple of weeks of starting an exercise regime. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to give up smoking and begin to monitor your weight—being over-weight will put extra strain on your heart. Be sure to contact your doctor if you are concerned about your health.