Over the years, research reveals that several habits and lifestyle changes can greatly increase your odds of preventing high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy blood pressure range. These include:

1. Cook More at Home

Cooking at home is an important part of lowering your blood pressure, which is why the creators of the DASH diet recommend it. This means keeping your diet as unprocessed as possible — consuming less things that come in packages, avoiding takeout/restaurant food and really limiting fast food. Making your own homemade meals from fresh, nutrient-dense food helps you lower your sodium and sugar intake while boosting your intake of powerful blood pressure-lowering nutrients like potassium, antioxidants and fiber.

2. Increase Fiber Consumption

Consuming plenty of fiber has been shown to help prevent hypertension, plus it can manage your appetite and avoid the blood sugar roller-coaster that results in cravings, fatigue, poor digestion and various health problems. (10) Fiber is found in nearly all unprocessed plant foods, so eating fresh vegetables not only helps in adopting a high-fiber diet, but it also aids in lowering your blood pressure. High-fiber foods also help reduce your risk of diabetes, high triglyceride levels, high cholesterol, digestive problems and weight gain.

3. Lower Your Sodium Intake

 

A low-sodium diet is the recommended approach to controlling high blood pressure because high amounts of sodium, found in basically all processed and packaged foods, is known to worsen high blood pressure by impacting fluid retention and how arteries dilate. (11)

Sodium is a type of  electrolyte that’s balanced by other beneficial electrolytes like potassium and magnesium in order to keep blood pressure within a healthy range. The problem is that most people eating a “Standard American Diet” consume far too much sodium and far too little potassium and magnesium, leading to electrolyte imbalances.

4. Get More Potassium

A low-potassium, high-sodium diet contributes to high blood pressure, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. (12) Potassium — found in foods like green veggies, bananas, sweet potatoes, organic dairy products, beans and avocados — is the third most abundant mineral in the body and is needed to interact with sodium to perform a number of important functions.

Potassium naturally increases sodium excretion and is found within all cells, as it plays a role in regulating heartbeat rhythms, nerve impulses, muscle contractions and digestive health. Low potassium can raise fluid retention and elevate blood pressure by interfering with heart palpitations, narrowing the arteries and resulting in poor circulation.

5. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water each day is important for preventing dehydration, balancing fluids, beating cravings and preventing fatigue. Consume more fresh water in place of things like juice, soda, sweetened coffee and tea, making sure to have about eight eight-ounce glasses or more daily.

6. Practice Portion Control

There’s no reason to get overwhelmed and fear that you’ll never be able to eat your favorite foods again. Focus on filling up on the healthy things first, so you’re less likely to crave the unhealthy stuff. Watch your portion sizes, and practice mindful eating to make sure you give your body what it needs to feel good but not too much more that weighs you down.