Blood Pressure Bad Habits
Heart failure makes up about half of all North American hospital admissions. To lower your heart disease risk, you should limit behaviors that constrict your vessels. These are bad habits like consuming too many added sugars or unnecessary medications.
Actions you don’t take could also put you at risk for high blood pressure, such as not drinking enough water, not consuming vegetables or fruits often enough, or in enough number or variety, or not managing stress and anger.
Here are 8 great ways to be kind to your heart:
- Follow your breath
When stress, anger, or fear activates your sympathetic nervous system, the body prepares to fight or flee. Your body wisely tries to keep you safe by constricting blood vessels so that you are less likely to lose a lot of blood and die if injured. If you stay chronically stressed, though, your blood vessels may be chronically constricted.
What to do: Relax and breathe to self-soothe and manage your stress response. When you feel open and relaxed, your blood vessels can open and relax too. A walk is one way to shift into a calm parasympathetic state, as is the act of paying attention to your inhales and exhales.
- Drink Tea
Many types of tea and herbal infusions are quite effective at helping to maintain healthy blood pressure. These teas include hibiscus, hawthorn, holy basil, black and green tea. Study data supports that tea consumption reduces some cardiovascular disease and stroke risk factors, especially in folks who are overweight people or obese, and suggests that tea could exert protective effects against development of cardiovascular disease and reduce all-cause mortality.*
What to do: Keep a selection of these heart-healthy teas on hand and drink two to three cups per day consistently to see the benefits. You can also try herbal extractions, which are more concentrated versions of herbal teas, such as the tea concentrates in Flora’s Essence line.
- Stay Hydrated
When your body’s cells don’t have enough water, it sets off a chemical chain reaction resulting in your blood vessels tightening up and narrowing, and that causes a rise in pressure.
What to do: If you follow our other tips, and drink tea and herbal infusions and eat plenty of produce, you will do great as they contain lots of water! Be sure to drink water before you feel thirsty. If water is too plain, beet juice is also a healthy, natural replenishing electrolyte drink that can support healthy blood pressure.*
- Stop and Smell (and consume) the Flowers
Beautiful bright blooms like hibiscus and passionflower make us feel cheerful and openhearted. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling us that they are good for our hearts! Their flavonoids have especially important cardiovascular effects. Hawthorn flower is widely used and studied for congestive heart failure and can reduce the workload of the heart. It increases blood flow to the heart muscle, dilates coronary arteries and strengthens heart contractions according to a double-blind randomized trial. In another such trial, powdered hibiscus in water performed better than a leading drug for hypertension!*
What to do: Take hawthorn as a tea, capsule or liquid extract on a daily basis help to dilate blood vessels and arteries so blood can flow through more easily, and maintain healthy blood pressure. Take hawthorn, passionflower and hibiscus flower preparations to help relieve pressure or anxiety in the heart area. CardioEssence from Flora is a delicious tonic that contains all three flowers and it is quick and easy to include in your routine.*
- Max out on Minerals
Getting enough potassium, magnesium, and calcium is crucial for healthy blood pressure. Science shows it is more important to get enough of these minerals than it is to cut back on sodium or salt! Potassium is in all produce, including beans, potatoes, avocadoes, beets, and tomatoes. Not eating enough produce is a risk factor for heart palpitations or ectopic beats.
What to do: Make sure you eat leafy greens, rich in all three crucial minerals. Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, while almonds are rich in calcium and magnesium. Other sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, blackstrap molasses, and dark chocolate. Calcium sources include bone-in salmon, tofu, and soy sprouts.
- Medicate Mindfully
People who use medication such as decongestants, hormones, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, like ibuprofen) can have higher blood pressure.
What to do: When possible, use natural methods to handle health concerns. Flora offers herbal pain relief capsules from white willow and an all natural respiratory relief product called RespirEssence.*
- Skip the Sugar
High blood pressure (HBP) can be more likely when we have high blood sugar. Added dietary sugar pushes pressure up. One extra-large soda pop (24 oz) can cause an average jump in the top number (systolic pressure – the pressure during a heartbeat) of 15 points and a 9-point bump in the bottom number (diastolic, or the pressure between beats)!
What to do: Find tasty replacements to sugar sweetened drinks, added sugar, and candy. We know this, but it can be hard to stick to. Try keeping fruit on hand to enjoy in place of sweets.
- Choose and Time your Starchy Carbs
It may be clear now that refined flour, sugar and vegetables, while all sources of carbs, are not created equal, and can have very different effects on your heart! Calorie for calorie, whole-food sources of carbs have more helpful phytonutrients, minerals, water and more heart healthy fiber than the same amount of refined carbs.
What to do: Pick produce over pasta. Choose colorful red strawberries, orange squash, purple sweet potatoes for your cart. Eat more tubers and fruit when you are active, and fewer when binging on screen time.
While some of these suggestions, like remembering to breathe when sitting in traffic, or filling your plate with colorful vegetables, can take a bit of practice to do consistently, it is these daily habits that really make or break heart health.
Flora wants to make it as simple as possible for you to establish a heart healthy habit, so they are offering CardioEssence and the rest of the Essence products at 15% off right now when you use the code ESSENCE15 at checkout at florahealth.com. I know you’ll love it, and when you do, put it on autopilot by subscribing. You’ll save 10% on every bottle while simultaneously taking the task off your mind. Doesn’t that sound nice?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Chronic Psychosocial Stress and Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694268/
Effects of Tea and Coffee Consumption on Cardiovascular Diseases and Relative Risk Factors: An Update https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28215148/
Tea consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25354990/
Hibiscus, Hawthorn, and the Heart https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2011-07/hibiscus-hawthorn-and-heart
Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12798455/
Promising hypotensive effect of hawthorn extract: a randomized double-blind pilot study of mild, essential hypertension https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11807965/
Efficacy of the Hawthorne (Crataegus) Preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23195811/
Clinical efficacy of crataegus extract WS 1442 in congestive heart failure NYHA class II https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11515715/
Clinical effects produced by a standardized herbal medicinal product of Hibiscus sabdariffa on patients with hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, Lisinopril-controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17315307/
Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18250365/
Added Sugar Intake is Associated with Blood Pressure in Older Females https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770020/