It's an emerging epidemic in North America: One out of every three people has pre-hypertension, a condition thal leads to high blood pressure. And most of them don't know it.
Don't assume that your blood pressure is normal lust because it used to be. Get it checked often. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. Sure, you can lower it with treatment. But stop treating it, and it goes up again. It's easier and wiser to prevent high blood pressure in the first place.
So fight this key risk for heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease now. Read on to learn about assessing your risk--and about 68 natural options for preventing high blood pressure. And be assured that even the 50 million Americans currently afflicted with high blood pressure can lower their readings by following our prevention plan.
1. Watch Your Weight: In over weight people, a 10 percent reduction in total body weight will sometimes normalize blood pressure.
2. Get Physical: Go for a brisk 30-minute walk 6 days a week.
3. Meditate: A new study shows it works for teens too.
4. Try Yoga: It reduces stress and strengthens the mind and body.
5. Butt Out: All forms of tobacco dramatically raise blood pressure.
6. Shake Off Salt: And sodium-rich foods such as soy sauce and canned soups.
7. Leave the Bar: 1-2 drinks a day is OK--even stress-relieving--but more can cause health problems.
8. Check Your Blood: Have cholesterol and triglycerides checked regularly.
9. Reject Refined Foods: Shun the sally, sugary, pre-made, preserved, fried and fatty.
10. Swear Off Sodas: Soft drinks can deplete potassium (see No. 20).
11. Find Fiber: Think veggies and whole grains.
12. Forgo Fat: Choose white fish and skinless chicken and turkey. Skip cheese, bacon, red meat, gravy and desserts.
13. Toss the Trans Fats: These are a greater risk than even saturated fats.
14. Howl for Whole Oats: Eaten daily, oats lower hypertension.
15. Try L-Carnitine: Another amino acid, also found in protein.
16. DASH Your Diet: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, and it's low in fat.
17. Defeat Diabetes: Diabetics who control their condition reduce hypertension risk.
18. Compute Your Body Mass Index: Multiply your weight in pounds by 703; then divide by your height in inches; then again divide by your height in inches. Try to stay between 18.5 and 24.9.
19. Mull Over a Multi: A daily multivitamin ensures that you're getting the basics.
20. Prefer Potassium: This crucial mineral is found in many fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, fish and supplements.
21. Make It Magnesium: It's in leafy greens, legumes, whole grains and supplements.
22. Value Vitamin C: The less vitamin C in the blood, the higher the blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
23. Boost Bioflavonoids: Available in fruits, vegetables and supplements, bioflavonoids enhance vitamin C's effect.
24. Embrace Vitamin E: Evidence suggests that vitamin E also magnifies vitamin C's blood pressure-lowering effect.
25. Get Milk: Hypertensive patients seldom drink enough milk--and they are usually low on calcium. Broccoli, spinach, tofu, goat milk and calcium supplements are alternatives.
26. Pick Pycnogenol: French maritime pine bark extract lowered blood pressure in a Chinese study, which was reported in the January 2, 2004 issue of Life Sciences.
27. Fish for Omega-3s: Stress essential fatty acid-containing foods or supplements of fish oil, flaxseed oil and primrose oil.
28. Queue Up for Coenzyme Q10: Hypertensive patients are often deficient in ubiquinone. Aside from supplements, organ meats are the richest sources.
29. Seize the Soy: Studies suggest that the isoflavones in soy, tofu, tempeh and miso make arterial walls more elastic.
30. Think Zinc: Zinc may reverse hypertension that has been caused by too much cadmium.
31. Have Some Hawthorn: An enzyme that can cause arteries to constrict is blocked by this berry.
32. Look for Linden: This blossom is often combined with hawthorn for blood pressure.
33. Target Taurine: This amino acid--available in protein and as a supplement--balances sodium and potassium in the blood, lowering blood pressure.
34. Crave Carrot Juice: Studies show it cleans arteries.
35. Cook with Cayenne: The capsicum in cayenne slows arteriosclerosis, which can cause hypertension.
36. Don't Pass on Parsley: It's a natural diuretic, which cuts blood pressure.
37. Go for Ginger: Ginger offers hypertensive benefits to some.
38. Seal the Deal: Goldenseal root may reduce blood pressure, especially when taken in conjunction with ginger.
39. Defy Dracula: Evidence shows that garlic lowers hypertension 2-7 percent. Onions help too.
40. Single Out Psyllium: Take this soluble fiber with plenty of water. Other sources of fiber include peas, beans, apples, pears and citrus fruit.
41. Consider Black Cohosh: Commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, this herb may also help with hypertension.
42. Cultivate Celery Seeds: They also contain calcium, which might add to their effect.
43. Dig Dandelions: Available in tinctures, tea, capsules and edible fresh leaves or roots.
44. Yell for Yarrow: Herbalists also call it milfoil.
45. Mind Your Melatonin: This hormone decreases nighttime blood pressure, concluded a study published in the January 2004 issue of Hypertension.
46. Stork Up on Perinatal EFAs: The fatty acids DHA, EPA and ALA--taken by pregnant women 5 months before and 1 month after giving birth--help prevent hypertension in adulthood.
47. Bring on Biofeedback: Using a special biofeedback machine, individuals learn to control their own physiological responses--including blood pressure.
48. Omit Oral Contraceptives: Birth control pills can increase blood pressure.
49. Don't Knock Noni: This Polynesian fruit is also known as morinda citrifolia and Indian mulberry.
50. Spice It Up: Try basil, black pepper, cinnamon, chili powder, cloves, curry, dillweed, dillseed, fennel, horseradish, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme. Their antioxidants may help--some directly lower blood pressure, and all substitute for salt.
51. Grasp Grape Seed Extract: Research at the University of Alabama suggests grape seed extract can lower blood pressure significantly.
52. Fall in Love with Lutein: Eat your spinach--or your kale or collards or mustard greens--or lake lutein supplements.
53. Don't Give Up on Ginkgo Biloba: It relaxes arterial walls, easing pressure.
54. Remember These Three Bs: Alter angioplasty surgery, three different B vitamins--folate, [B.sub.6] and [B.sub.12]--cut in half the risk that arteries will re-close.
55. Air Out Antioxidants: Zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene may help.
56. Go Mad About Saffron: This herb contains a blood pressure-lowering chemical called crocetin.
57. Reach for Reishi Mushroom Extract: Taking 55 mg of concentrated reishi mushroom extract three times a clay was found to reduce moderately high blood pressure after 1 month.
58. 'Tai' One On: Tat chi proponents say their rituals lower blood pressure.
59. Call Your Motherwort: This herb is also known as Leonurus cardiaca.
60. Highlight Herbs: Chamomile flowers, fennel seed and rosemary may cut hypertension risk.
61. Go Cuckoo for Coleus Forskohlii: This mint-family herb lowers blood pressure naturally.
62. Buy into Bilberry: This European blueberry contains anthocyanosides, which are powerful flavonoids.
63. Let in the Cat's Claw: Contains the alkaloid rhynchophylline, which has anti-hypertensive effects.
64. Keep Kelp: A 1997 study suggested kelp may help.
65. Go to Gotu Kola: For insomnia and lowering blood pressure.
66. Indulge in Aromatherapy: Aromatic bath or massage oils temporarily lower hypertension. Try 5 drops each of lemon balm and lavender essential oils in warm bath water.
67. Jilt the Java: Too much daily coffee-and even tea-can raise blood pressure.
68. Now, Go to Bed: High blood pressure patients deprived of sleep experience significant increases in blood pressure, especially during the evening.