Think the only way to get your high blood pressure down is to push away the salt shaker? Nope.
From the kitchen to the gym and beyond, here are some tricks to help you get your readings back in line.
Did you hate this root vegetable when you were a kid? Take another stab at it.
Beets have nitrite, which opens your blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, professor emerita at Georgia State University.
Eat them or drink their juice before a workout, and you can lower the amount of oxygen your muscles need to do their job. That means you stay stronger longer.
Kitchen Tip: Wrap beets in foil and roast in the oven at 400°F for 40 minutes or until they’re tender. Slice and season with olive oil and fresh thyme. If you want to try the liquid route, drink about 4 ounces of beet juice before a workout.
Give In to Culture Shock
Yogurt isn’t just for women. It can help you build muscle and strengthen your bones.
Just 6 ounces a day can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Special proteins and a kind of bacteria called probiotics are behind this heart-healthy perk.
Choose plain Greek yogurt with no more than 2% fat content. You’ll get all of the good stuff with less sugar and saturated fat.
Kitchen Tip: Top it with blueberries. They add natural sweetness and can help keep your blood pressure even.
Spice Things Up
Check out your pantry or the spice aisle at the market to find tastes that tickle your buds but don’t add salt. Try strong-flavored standbys like basil, garlic powder, cumin, curry powder, ginger, paprika, and rosemary.
Kitchen Tip: Spike your post-workout smoothie with cinnamon. This tongue-tingler can help keep your blood pressure in check.
Kick off your meals with a bowl of low-calorie gazpacho. This cold veggie soup lowers blood pressure thanks to its main ingredients -- tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.
Those are all rich in antioxidants, which keep your cells healthy. Lycopene, the one in tomatoes, is particularly potent, says Alissa Rumsey, RD, a certified strength-and-conditioning coach.
Kitchen Tip: Gazpacho is easy. Blend tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, garlic, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and any other seasoning that sounds good. These same items could also become a quick game-day salsa.
Join the Dark Side
Make dark chocolate a go-to snack option. Choose one with at least 60% cocoa and limit yourself to 1 ounce a day. That’s enough to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Dark chocolate has twice the flavonoids -- another type of antioxidant -- as milk chocolate. That makes it a better choice for your heart, Rosenbloom says.
Kitchen Tip: Stir unsweetened cocoa powder into your morning oatmeal.
Heading to the market? Spend more time at the seafood counter and less in the meat department.
Load up on salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. These fish have two omega-3 fats. They can lower inflammation, which opens up your blood vessels and lowers pressure.
Kitchen Tip: “Eat these fish at least two to three times a week,” Rumsey says.
Pump Some Iron
Too much jiggle in the middle can put you at risk for high blood pressure. Your best defense? Hop off the treadmill and lift some weights.
You could blast twice as many extra pounds than if you just do cardio. Strength training builds muscle, which boosts your metabolism. That “makes it easier to burn off belly fat,” Rumsey says.
Gym Tip: Don’t give up your aerobic workouts. They’re still the best way to shed extra weight.
Get Your 'Om' On
Yoga? Really? Yes. In just 3 months you could get better blood pressure readings. It might help your cholesterol levels, too. And you could lose a few pounds.
“Yoga helps dilate your blood vessels and reduces stress,” Rumsey says. You’ll also get stronger and more limber while you’re at it.
Gym Tip: Start with a beginner class that caters to men if you’re worried your poses won’t be up to snuff.