I was wondering, do you have any advice on how to lower your systolic blood pressure? What sorts of foods should I avoid, and which should I eat more of?

Your blood pressure numbers include two readings called the diastolic and systolic. The diastolic number is the bottom one. It is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. The systolic number is the top number and is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. When the systolic number is consistently high, you have a condition called hypertension, or high blood pressure. This is a serious condition that can lead to death if left untreated.

The best way to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings is to first reduce the salt or sodium in your diet. Remove the salt shaker from the table and replace with other fresh or dried herbs, like rosemary, thyme, garlic or onion powder, cumin etc. Now do a pantry inventory. Start to eliminate bagged rice/noodle mixes, canned soup, bouillon, potato chips, crackers, pretzels etc. Begin to pre-plan your grocery list and be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables. They can be frozen, fresh, or canned without salt. Fill your cart with mostly unprocessed foods (beans, whole grains, low fat dairy products, eggs, lean meats like chicken and fish). Eating healthfully (with the addition of healthy cardiovascular activity with your doctor’s permission) can also help overweight people to start to shed unwanted pounds, which is also helpful to lower blood pressure. If you are a smoker, take steps to stop smoking. And finally, begin to limit stress. It could be helpful to take up yoga or begin to meditate. These can allow for quiet time of reflection and can greatly reduce hypertension.

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