Most people don’t think about their blood pressure until it’s too late, but that can be a deadly mistake. High blood pressure, technically known as hypertension, can hurt your health before you even know you have it. In fact, your first symptom could be a heart attack or stroke. That’s why high blood pressure is often known as the “silent killer.”
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Luckily, a combination of positive lifestyle choices, targeted nutrients, and proven botanical extracts can help to keep your pressure down.
Beware the Silent Killer
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause significant harm to every tissue and organ in your body. It can lead to dire health consequences such as:
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
- Brain damage
Since you can’t tell when your blood pressure levels increase, it’s important to have it checked regularly. Once you know where your pressure stands, you’ll be able to take immediate steps to lower it or to keep it in a healthy range.
What’s a Healthy Blood Pressure Level?
Blood pressure refers to the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of your blood vessels. Every time your heart beats, it sends blood through your arteries, increasing blood pressure. In between beats, when your heart relaxes, blood pressure drops.
Your blood pressure measurement consists of two numbers, reported in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg:
- Systolic pressure, the top number, measures the pressure during heart beats.
- Diastolic pressure, the bottom number, measures pressure between beats.
Blood pressure categories range from normal to hypertensive crisis. When you know your numbers, you can figure out which category they fall into.
|Category||Systolic mmHg||and/or||Diastolic mmHg|
|Normal||Under 120||and||Under 80|
|Stage 1 Hypertension||130-139||or||80-89|
|Stage 2 Hypertension||140 or higher||or||90 or higher|
|Hypertensive Crisis||Higher than 180||and/or||Higher than 120|
Source: American Heart Association
If your systolic blood pressure is 120 mm Hg or higher and your diastolic BP is less than 80, you’ll want to take proactive steps immediately. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to improve your blood pressure and avoid sending it into the danger zones.
Lifestyle Factors Affect Your Blood Pressure
Your daily habits can impact your blood pressure like two sides of a coin. Land on the positive side and it’s easier to maintain healthy blood pressure. But land on the negative side and you’ll have a greater risk of high blood pressure and all its potentially deadly complications.
|Lifestyle Factor||Lowers Blood Pressure||Raises Blood Pressure|
|Diet||Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats||Processed foods, trans fats, minimal or no fresh fruits and vegetables|
|Exercise||Regular exercise most days of the week||No or minimal exercise|
|Alcohol||Limited to one drink daily for women, two for men||Having more than two drinks per day|
|Stress||Managing stress with healthy options such as meditation, mindful breathing, and yoga||Not managing stress or using unhealthy coping methods such as alcohol and drugs|
|Weight||Maintaining a healthy weight||Being overweight or obese|
Along with the risk factors you can control, there are some that you can’t. Those include age, family history, and health conditions such as kidney disease. Luckily, there are safe, natural nutrients that can help lower your blood pressure and keep it in the healthy zone.
3 Ways to Safely Lower Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure under control can help you avoid severe health consequences. These three proven natural solutions work to safely lower blood pressure and keep it in the normal category.
French grape seed extract. Grape seeds contain potent blood pressure-lowering compounds known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs. By promoting vasodilation and reducing oxidative stress, French grape seed extract helps keep blood flowing smoothly for healthier blood pressure. A meta-analysis published in Medicine (Baltimore) pooled the results of 16 clinical trials and found that, on average, grape seed extract reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.077 points and diastolic blood pressure by 2.803 points. A 2021 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in Nutrients also found that grape seed extract significantly reduced blood pressure and relieved perceived stress, which can affect blood pressure levels. For the best results, look for a highly absorbable, standardized tannin-free French grape seed extract.
Magnesium. This essential mineral plays a key role in blood pressure management. Studies show that even slight magnesium deficiencies can lead to hypertension, partly because blood vessels need magnesium to relax and widen. An intervention study published in Nutrients showed that supplementing magnesium for one month reduced systolic blood pressure by 8.9 points and diastolic blood pressure by 5.8 points in hypertensive patients. Although there are many forms of magnesium, seek out magnesium glycinate. This form is not only easy on the stomach but is also highly absorbable.
Olive leaf extract. Olive leaves make a powerful ally in the battle to lower blood pressure, thanks to a key compound called oleuropein, an antioxidant that promotes vasodilation. A 2021 randomized controlled trial published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that taking olive leaf extract daily for six weeks reduced daytime systolic blood pressure by 3.95 points and diastolic blood pressure by 3.00 points in patients with Stage 1 hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that included 60 patients with hypertension showed that olive leaf extract helped lower blood pressure by significantly reducing inflammation. That study was published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences.