September 22, 2011

How To Lower Blood Pressure Without Pills -- Tea and Chocolate Sound Good?

I was watching The Today Show this morning while fixing breakfast when they announced an upcoming segment about natural ways to lower blood pressure. With all the trauma of the past month, my blood pressure readings on my home monitor have been jumping all around. So I decided to hang around for that segment. Turned out to be interesting.

They opened by noting that high blood pressure is a factor in 15% of the deaths in the U.S. Then they went on to give a list of things that we can do on our own to lower our blood pressure:


  1. Lose weight. This piece of advice is the most important thing you can do. In a recent study of a large group of people -- including those already at an ideal weight as well as the over-weight -- those who achieved a loss of 7.7 pounds were half as likely to have high blood pressure.
  2. Take power walks. Those who took up power walks 30 minutes a day for five days a week dropped an average of 8 points in the upper number and 6 points in the lower number. Even if you can't exercise this much, any increased exercise can help.
  3. Drink hibiscus tea. Weight loss and exercise are on the list of remedies for just about all ailments. But hibiscus tea was new to me. Apparently it's high in anti-oxidents and other good stuff. One study showed that drinking three cups a day for just six weeks  lowered blood pressure by 7 points -- a result comparable to taking a blood pressure med.
  4. Eat dark chocolate. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. BUT only take one square a day. 
  5. Eat potassium rich produce. These include bananas, orange juice, tomatoes and kidney beans. (Our kidneys are largely responsible for lowering blood pressure.) 
  6. Work less. One study showed that those working more than 41 hours a week increased their risk of high blood pressure by 15%.

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