A good blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or lower for most healthy adults. If you’ve been noticing your readings have been higher than this, or are slowly creeping up, it may be time to start thinking about making a few lifestyle changes or speaking with your physician. Why do I say this? Because lifestyle factors can not only improve your blood pressure within a few weeks, but they can result in lasting shifts in other areas of health as well. Here are 4 easy ways to bring your blood pressure down within 12 weeks or less:

Cut the Salt… Reduce your sodium intake to less than 2000 mg sodium per day to see drop of around 11 points as soon as 2-4 weeks. For reference, one teaspoon of salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride, has 2300 mg of sodium. The easiest way to reduce this is to stop adding salt to foods, reading food labels, reducing consumption of pre-packaged goods, breads, cheeses, soups, and deli meats. Be particularly wary of your bread and snack choices, as sodium is often used as a preservative. Focus on fresh, whole foods, fruits and vegetables, low sodium seasonings, and using herbs and spices. Items with less than 140 mg sodium per serving are ideal.

Get Moving… Aim for at least three, 10 minute walks per day, most days per week or about 150 minutes of exercise.  This doesn’t have to all be done at once. Exercise done in increments of at least 10 minutes can provide major health benefits. Start slowly and build to comfort to see a decrease of around 7 points in blood pressure within 4-12 weeks.

Lose Weight… On average, people can expect to drop one blood pressure point for every 2 lbs of weight lost. The good news? Usually weight loss is a by-product of moving and eating more fruits and vegetables, both of which are also factors that improve pressure readings and overall health.

Get More Potassium… This can help decrease pressure by an additional 4-5 points. Try to get AT LEAST 3,500 mg potassium per day, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Foods rich in potassium include many fruits and vegetables including baked potato with skin, beet greens, sweet potato, banana, avocado, tuna, cantaloupe, yogurt, lentils, spinach, beans, edamame, coconut water, and apples.

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