If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you need to get it down! The good news is that many of the steps you can take are painless, and some are downright enjoyable.
Step 1: Eat less sodium and salt Consume less sodium, which contributes to hypertension. It's not enough to just put away the saltshaker – check food labels as well. Many prepared foods, like canned soup and frozen meals, are loaded with sodium.
Step 2: Eat potassium-rich foods Eat more baked potatoes – with the skin – plus other potassium-rich foods like acorn squash, bananas, orange juice, and halibut. Dozens of studies prove that a potassium-rich diet helps combat the blood pressure-raising damage of a high sodium diet.
Step 3: Drink red wine Drink one glass of red wine every day, but limit yourself to just one glass.
Step 4: Lose weight Lose weight if you need to. Obesity has been linked to hypertension. Track your steps with a pedometer. People who use them walk up to 2,000 steps more, which can help them reduce their weight and their blood pressure.
Step 5: Get a pet Get a pet. Not only does having one lower blood pressure, petting them has been shown to increase levels of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin in their owners.
Step 6: Eat chocolate Eat some chocolate every day. The trick is to keep the portion small – say, bite-size – and make sure you're munching dark chocolate made mostly from cocoa solids. It should taste a little bitter.
Step 7: Become a hugger Become more touchy-feely. Research indicates that people who hug and hold hands are calmer.
Step 8: Start praying Start praying. One study found that people who attend weekly religious services have lower blood pressure than those who don't attend at all.
FACT: By 2025, 1.6 billion people worldwide are expected to have high blood pressure.