The human heart acts as a pump, distributing blood to organs around the body. For this to function correctly, the blood pumping through arteries needs to be maintained at a certain force. This is referred to as ‘blood pressure’.
As a result of various factors (age, excess weight, smoking ...), too much pressure can sometimes be exerted on artery walls. Elevated blood pressure can cause weakening of the blood vessels, increased heart fatigue and the onset of various cardiovascular problems.
As a general guide, a normal blood pressure reading is considered to be 120/80 mm of mercury (mmHg): 120 is the systolic pressure (the pressure when your heart pushes blood out) and 80 is the diastolic pressure (the pressure when your heart rests between beats. Elevated blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher if taken at the doctor’s surgery, or 135/85mmHg if taken at home.
Discover now our 8 tips to help lower your blood pressure.
Start by taking a look at your diet. Avoid salt where possible, as consuming too much can cause the body to retain water, leading to an increase in blood volume and a consequent rise in blood pressure. Salt can be replaced in cooking by herbs and spices. Watch out too for ‘hidden’ salt which is used abundantly in processed foods...
Avoid liquorice. It’s high in glycyrrhizin, a substance which increases sodium and water retention and thus causes a rise in blood pressure.
Eat less food high in unhealthy fats, such as sausages, ham, pâté … and cut down on alcohol . Finally, reduce your consumption of stimulants (tea, coffee ...), which increase the heart rate and elevate blood pressure (1).
Physical activity helps to control blood pressure by aiding weight loss, relieving stress and making the arteries more flexible (2).
So put on your trainers and head off for a daily 30-minute walk, go jogging, do some gardening, use your bike to pick up your groceries from the local shops ...
While our diets tend to be too high in salt and sodium, they’re often too low in potassium. Yet this excellent mineral is known to help maintain normal blood pressure(3).
You’ll find potassium in foods such as cumin seeds, tomato puree, ground ginger, and at higher concentrations, in potassium supplements (such as Potassium bicarbonate).
Stress, anxiety and sleep problems are also major factors in increasing blood pressure (4).
So it’s a good idea to try yoga or meditation, and allow yourself to benefit from longer, more restorative, sleep. Your arteries and cardiovascular system in general will thank you for it.
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHAnormal blood pressure (5). But remember that the body is unable to produce them itself so you have to get them from your diet.
Omega-3s are found in mackerel, sardines, kippers, chia seeds ... For an effective boost to your omega-3 intake, you could also opt for a high-quality fish oil supplement (such as Arctic Plankton Oil).
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a plant from the Fabaceae family, which is very popular in traditional Chinese medicine. As well as being good for the body’s natural defenses, it plays a particular role in maintaining normal blood pressure (6).
To benefit from astragalus’ properties, either make a herbal tea from it, or even better, take an astragalus supplement with a high polysaccharide content (such as Astragalus Extract, in liquid form that you take in drops).
Another useful plant in this respect is garlic, which supports healthy veins and blood vessels (7). Benefit, for example, from black garlic (with the supplement ABG10+®).
As you’ll already be aware, cigarettes are bad for the cardiovascular system. When you smoke, carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream. It then binds with red blood cells in the place of oxygen, potentially resulting in a lack of oxygen in the blood for which the body compensates … by increasing blood pressure (8).
What’s more, smoking exacerbates atheromatous plaque deposits in the arteries (these are essentially an accumulation of blood cells and bad cholesterol) and encourages the development of clots. Patches, apps or even hypnosis can help if you decide to give up smoking,.
Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida) is a small, thorny shrub, long-feted for its medicinal properties. Its flavonoid-rich leaves help, in particular, to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system (9).
To benefit from a good intake of hawthorn, take an extract of hawthorn leaf such as that contained in the supplement Tensix. This synergistic formulation contains many other beneficial compounds too, including potassium, arginine, extract of celery seeds, etc.