High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1 billion people worldwide (12).
If left uncontrolled, it raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication.
Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.

1. Walk and Exercise Regularly

Couple Running in the City
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health (34).
What’s more, doing even more exercise reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’ Health Study (5).
Bottom Line: Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps reduce it even further.

2. Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Salt Shaker on Side
Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods.
For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry (6).
In many studies, salt has been linked to high blood pressure and heart events, like stroke (78).
However, more recent research has shown that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure may be less clear (910).
One reason for this may be genetic differences between how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt (11).
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices, rather than salt.
Bottom Line: Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend lowering sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are salt-sensitive.

3. Drink Less Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world (12).
While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by negative effects (12).
In the US, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Bottom Line: Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.

4. Eat More Potassium-Rich Foods

Three Bananas
Potassium is an important mineral.
It helps your body get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessels.
Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake (13).
To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots
  • Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
Bottom Line: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.

5. Cut Back on Caffeine

If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee before you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost.
However, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase (14).
In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who don’t (15161718).
Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don’t consume it regularly (19).
If you suspect you’re caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it lowers your blood pressure (20).
Bottom Line: Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, although for many people it does not cause a lasting increase.

6. Learn to Manage Stress

Young Man Lying on a Couch Listening to Music
Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure.
When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
When you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthy food, that can negatively affect blood pressure.
Several studies have explored how reducing stress can help lower blood pressure. Here are two evidence-based tips to try:
  • Listen to soothing music: Calming music can help relax your nervous system. Research has shown it’s an effective complement to other blood pressure therapies (2122).
  • Work less: Working a lot, and stressful work situations in general, are linked to high blood pressure (2324).
To find out more ways to lower stress, read this article.
Bottom Line: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.

7. Eat Dark Chocolate or Cocoa

Four Pieces of Dark Chocolate
Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind.
While eating massive amounts of chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may.
That’s because dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate (25).
A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure (26).
For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.

8. Lose Weight

If you’re overweight, losing weight can make a big difference for your heart health.
According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure (27).
In previous studies, losing 17 pounds (7.7 kg) was linked to lowering systolic blood pressure by 8.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.5 mm Hg (28).
To put that in perspective, a healthy reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg.
The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise (28).
Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Bottom Line: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even greater when you exercise.

9. Quit Smoking

Cigarette Butt
Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Every puff of cigarette smoke causes a slight, temporary increase in blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels.
Surprisingly, studies haven’t found a conclusive link between smoking and high blood pressure. Perhaps this is because smokers develop a tolerance over time (29).
Still, since both smoking and high blood pressure raise the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking can help reverse that risk.
Bottom Line: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.

10. Cut Added Sugar and Refined Carbs

There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar and high blood pressure (303132).
In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less than one soda per day (33).
Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure (34).
And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, such as the kind found in white flour, convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems.
Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure.
One study on people undergoing statin therapy found that those who went on a six-week, carb-restricted diet saw a greater improvement in blood pressure and other heart disease markers than people not on a diet (35).
Bottom Line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may help reduce your levels.

11. Eat Berries

Pile of Blueberries
Berries are full of more than just juicy flavor.
They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart.
One small study had middle-aged people eat berries for eight weeks.
Participants experienced improvements in different markers of heart health, including blood pressure (36).
Another study assigned people with high blood pressure to a low-polyphenol diet or a high-polyphenol diet containing berries, chocolate, fruits and vegetables (37).
Those consuming berries and polyphenol-rich foods experienced improved markers of heart disease risk.
Bottom Line: Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.

12. Try Meditation or Deep Breathing

Woman Meditating and Relaxing by the Seaside
While these two behaviors could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.
Both meditation and deep breathing are thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
There’s quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure (3839).
Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.
In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds or to simply sit still for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths lowered their blood pressure more than those who just sat (40).
Try guided meditation or deep breathing. Here’s a video to get you started.
Bottom Line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.

13. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

Can of Sardines
People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.
While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem linked to healthy levels (4142).
For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 mg per day. For women over 50 and men over 70, it’s 1,200 mg per day (43).
In addition to dairy, you can get calcium from collard greens and other leafy greens, beans, sardines and tofu. Here is a complete list.
Bottom Line: Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. Get calcium through dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.

14. Take Natural Supplements

Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure. Here are some of the main supplements that have evidence behind them:
  • Aged garlic extract: Aged garlic extract has been used successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure (4445).
  • Berberine: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, berberine may increase nitric oxide production, which helps decrease blood pressure (4647).
  • Whey protein: A 2016 study found that whey protein improved blood pressure and blood vessel function in 38 participants (48).
  • Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil may benefit people with high blood pressure the most (4950).
  • Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers make a tasty tea. They’re rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are good for your heart and may lower blood pressure (51).
Bottom Line: Several natural supplements have been investigated for their ability to lower blood pressure.

15. Eat Foods Rich in Magnesium

Group of-Beans and Lentils
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax.
While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough.
Some studies have suggested that getting too little magnesium is linked with high blood pressure, but evidence from clinical studies has been less clear (5253).
Still, eating a magnesium-rich diet is a recommended way to ward off high blood pressure (53).
You can incorporate magnesium into your diet with vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat and whole grains.
Bottom Line: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole foods, such as legumes and whole grains.

Take Home Message

High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population.
While drugs are one way to treat the condition, there are many other natural techniques that can help.
Controlling your blood pressure through the methods in this article may, ultimately, help you lower your risk of heart disease.
Mobility is great, but without strength control, range of motion is useless! This is a great drill to retrain and reset your spinal stabilizers and core so you can get all the control you need to move like you mean it.

Featuring Mitch Starkman, Physiotherapist


About The Movement Library

The Movement Library is a compilation of mobility, strength and corrective exercises demonstrated just for you by a physiotherapist. We've included some quick reasons as to why you may need to work on each exercise, while emphasizing proper technique so that you can truly, Move Like You Mean It!

About The Movement Centre:

The Movement Centre strives to explore, assess, and correct human movement by providing customized self-administered treatments that anyone can use through the guidance of a movement physiotherapist.

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When in doubt, it is always a good idea to get assessed by your healthcare practitioner so you can truly Move Like You Mean It

At any given moment, an estimated 24% of men and 38% of women in the US are trying to lose weight (1).
Meanwhile, obesity has skyrocketed and working-age adults are gaining about 2.2 pounds (1 kg) annually, on average (23).
Recent studies have shown that daily self-weighing may be a powerful tool for both losing and maintaining weight.
However, many people believe that weighing yourself daily contributes to bad mental health and disordered eating habits.
So what should you believe? This article sets the record straight on whether you should start weighing yourself daily.

Weighing Yourself Daily Helps You Lose More Weight

The simple act of self-weighing has received lots of attention and stirred up controversy for years.
Some people have even thrown away their scale, claiming that it’s a highly misleading weight loss tool that results in bad self-esteem and disordered eating habits (45).
However, recent studies generally agree that daily weighing is associated with greater weight loss and less weight regain than less-frequent self-weighing (6789).
One study showed that participants who weighed themselves daily for six months lost 13 more pounds (6 kg), on average, than those who weighed themselves less frequently (10).
What’s more, those who weigh themselves daily tend to adopt more favorable weight control behaviors, exercise better restraint toward food and eat impulsively less often (1011).
Interestingly, adopting healthy weight-related behaviors has been shown to be especially important during the period when people emerge from adolescence into adulthood (12).
One study in participants aged 18–25 showed that daily self-weighing resulted in better weight loss than less-frequent weighing (13).
The researchers concluded that daily self-weighing is a particularly valuable self-regulation tool for this age group.
Furthermore, another study showed that people who weighed themselves every day ate 347 fewer calories per day than those who did not.
After six months, the group that weighed themselves daily ended up losing a whopping 10 times more weight than the control group (14).
Bottom Line: Daily self-weighing may cause people to lose more weight and gain less of it back, compared to less-frequent weighing.

Daily Weighing May Motivate You and Improve Self-Control

Tomato, Broccoli, a Bell Pepper and a Tape Measure on Bathroom Scales
Being aware of your weight is a key factor in successful weight loss.
Awareness of your weight trend — that is, whether your weight is going up or down — is also important.
In fact, weighing yourself more often is linked to weight control, while weighing yourself less often has been associated with weight gain.
One study found that participants who weighed themselves less often were more likely to report increased calorie intake and decreased restraint toward food (15).
Self-weighing promotes self-regulation and awareness of your weight trend and weight-related behaviors. That’s why it generally results in greater weight loss (14).
Although the exact number on the scale may be unimportant, monitoring weight loss progress motivates you to keep going and generally improves weight-related behavior and self-control.
Also, by being more aware of your weight, you can quickly react to lapses in your progress and make necessary adjustments to maintain your goal.
Since most people are able to sustain a habit of daily self-weighing, the adherence and acceptability of it is generally quite high (1617181920).
It’s a minor addition to your daily routine that may help you reap major benefits for your weight.
Bottom Line: Daily self-weighing helps you maintain awareness of your weight. Monitoring weight loss progress further motivates you to keep going and improves your self-control.

Daily Weighing Helps You Keep the Weight Off

Frequent self-weighing has been shown to be a great way to prevent weight gain in the long-term (15212223).
One study investigated how much self-weighing frequency predicted weight change over two years in working adults (24).
It found that there was a significant link between self-weighing frequency and weight change. In normal-weight individuals, daily weighing resulted in a slight weight loss, while those who weighed themselves monthly gained 4.4 pounds (2 kg), on average.
However, the largest difference was in overweight individuals.
Those who weighed themselves daily lost 10 pounds (4.4 kg), while those who weighed themselves monthly gained 2.2 pounds (1 kg), on average (24).
Another study came to a similar conclusion, showing that self-weighing was a significant predictor of body weight over time. Participants lost an extra pound (0.45 kg) of body weight for every 11 days they self-weighed (25).
The main reason why this is so effective is that consistent self-weighing allows you to catch weight gain before it escalates and make the necessary changes to prevent more weight gain (15).
Bottom Line: Daily weighing may help prevent long-term weight gain, especially in overweight people.

Weighing Yourself Daily Is Not as Bad as People Think

Woman Weighing Herself on Bathroom Scales
Not so long ago, frequent self-weighing was thought to be damaging to your mental health. This notion still exists today.
Self-weighing is claimed to have negative effects on your mood by continuously reinforcing that your body size is not ideal or appropriate, resulting in an increased risk of developing an eating disorder (45).
Although this may be true in a small group of people, most studies have repeatedly come to a different conclusion (92627).
The available research suggests there is very little evidence that frequent self-weighing is a cause of negative mood or body dissatisfaction, especially as part of a weight loss program (81214262829).
In fact, studies indicate that frequent self-weighing may increase body satisfaction, rather than decrease it (9).
That said, there is a group of people who may develop a negative body image, low self-esteem or undesirable eating behaviors as a result of daily self-weighing (30).
If you find that daily self-weighing causes you to have bad feelings about yourself or your eating behaviors, you should find other methods to measure your progress.
Bottom Line: Most studies do not link frequent self-weighing to negative mood or body dissatisfaction. Some even associate them with higher body satisfaction.

How to Weigh Yourself for Best Results

Weight Scale
The best time to weigh yourself is right after you wake up, after going to the bathroom and before you eat or drink.
Your weight tends to fluctuate less in the morning than later in the day when you’ve had plenty to eat and drink. That is also why people weigh the least in the morning.
Also, it is best if you always weigh yourself in similar clothing each day.
However, you need to keep in mind that your weight may fluctuate from day to day and can be affected by many factors, including:
  • What you ate or drank the previous day
  • Bloating or water retention
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Whether you’ve had bowel movements recently
Therefore, it is important to assess the trend of your weight over a longer period of time, instead of drawing conclusions from each and every weighing.
A basic scale will do just fine. However, many scales also have the ability to measure your body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and muscle mass, which may help you get a better picture of your progress.
There are also several apps available for your phone or computer that allow you to easily enter your daily weight and see the trend of your weight change. Happy Scale for iPhone and Libra for Android are two such apps.
Bottom Line: It is best to weigh yourself right after you wake up, after going to the bathroom and before you eat or drink anything.

Other Ways to Track Your Progress

Tape Measure
Although self-weighing may be a valuable tool, it has some limitations.
If you’re exercising and gaining muscle, the scale may not show your progress and instead simply show that you have gained weight.
While losing weight can indicate progress, a scale does not differentiate between healthy weight (muscle) and unhealthy weight (fat).
Therefore, it may be good to add other ways of tracking your progress to your regimen. Here are some examples:
  • Measure circumference: Muscle has much less volume than fat, so your circumference may be decreasing even if your weight stays the same or goes up.
  • Measure body fat percentage: By measuring your body fat percentage, you can observe changes in fat mass, regardless of your weight.
  • Take pictures of yourself regularly: You can observe any changes in your physique by comparing photos of yourself in similar clothing.
  • Note how your clothes feel: Any changes in your weight will probably affect how your clothes fit. Feeling them become looser or tighter is one of the best indicators of changes in your body.
Bottom Line: Other ways to track your progress include measuring your circumference, measuring your body fat percentage and taking pictures of yourself.

Take Home Message

Weighing yourself every day can help increase your awareness of your weight and weight-related behaviors.
It may help you lose more weight and prevent you from gaining that weight back in the long-term.
Daily self-weighing may just be that extra motivation you need to achieve your weight goals.