Balance your minerals
Aside from reducing your sodium intake (you should have less than 2,300 mg a day, or about 1 teaspoon of salt), make sure you’re getting enough potassium and magnesium. These minerals work with sodium and calcium to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of NYU’s Women’s Heart Program. You need 350-400 mg of magnesium and 4,700 mg of potassium a day, which you can get by eating at least 2 1/2 cups of fruits and veggies. Particularly good sources of these minerals include soybeans, spinach, potatoes, kidney beans and bananas.
Rethink your food choices
Watch out for aged, fermented, pickled or cured foods, such as sausage, bacon, ham, lunch meat and aged cheeses. “Not only are these high in sodium, but they also contain tyramine, an amino acid-based compound that can increase blood pressure in people who take certain medications like monoamine oxidase inhibitors [MAOIs],” says Annie Neuendorf, MPH, RD, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Wellness Institute in Chicago.
In a study from Yale University School of Medicine, people who took a 90-minute yoga and meditation class three days a week for six weeks significantly reduced their blood pressure. Don’t worry if you’re short on time or not so limber. Taking even 10 minutes each day to stretch, breathe deeply and clear your mind should help a little.