Blood pressure measures the force at which the heart pumps blood around your body.1 Health care professionals and doctors use a blood pressure cuff around your arm that gradually tightens to assess your blood pressure. It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), and the results are given in two figures.1 The first figure is the number that measures the pressure when your heart is contracting and pushing out blood.2 It is called systolic blood pressure. The second figure is the number that measures the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.2 This would be the diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading is the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure figures.2
The Importance of Having Healthy Blood Pressure
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg.3 Healthy blood pressure is crucial to ensure the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to all the essential parts of your body, including your heart, brain and kidneys.4
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, occurs when blood pressure is higher than normal (>120/80 mmHg). According to American Health Association, almost half of all Americans have hypertension.3 It is also known as “the silent killer”, as most people with high blood pressure often do not display any symptoms.3,4 The British Heart Foundation estimates that the number of people under the age of 65 and 45 who have untreated high blood pressure is 4 million and 1.3 million respectively.5 If left untreated, it can increase your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease such as heart disease, a heart attack and a stroke.6 However, if the condition is detected early, it can be easily treated with a combination of a healthy lifestyle and blood pressure medication. Thus, it is important to regularly check your blood pressure at pharmacies, clinics or hospitals. Although blood pressure medicine effectively lowers blood pressure, it comes with side effects such as dizziness, electronic imbalance, and chronic fatigue.7,8 Thus, here is an alternative to maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Drinks that Lower Blood Pressure
Extensive research suggests that tomato juice is one of the drinks that might lower high blood pressure. As evidenced by a Japanese study in 2019, the researchers elucidated that drinking unsalted tomato juice improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure in Japanese residents with a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including untreated hypertension.10
So, what components in tomatoes make them powerful in alleviating the risk of developing high blood pressure? Tomatoes and their products are reservoirs of bioactive compounds.10 What is a bioactive compound? Bioactive compounds, abundantly found in vegetables, can act as an antihypertensive that can lower high blood pressure.9 Lycopene, one of the bioactive components present in tomatoes, has strong antioxidant activity that could help reduce the risk of developing hypertension.10 As a bonus, you can conveniently make the juice in the comfort of your own home.
Beetroot juice, with its pretty colour, is also well-known for its health benefits, especially in helping to lower blood pressure. Beetroots are rich in dietary nitrates, one of the vital components that can alleviate blood pressure levels.
A recent review of random clinical trials demonstrated that the juice significantly lowered high blood pressure.11 However, the response to beetroot juice varies depending on the individual. For example, a population with BMI > 25 kg/m2 and men respond better to the beetroot intake, but much more research is needed. Regardless, the British Heart Foundation recommends drinking 250 ml of beetroot juice daily to lower high blood pressure.12
Pomegranate, a heart-friendly fruit, has been claimed to provide numerous health benefits, including lowering the risk of hypertension. A study suggested that pomegranate’s contains antioxidants that help them exert antiatherogenic, antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory effects.16 Additionally, Sahebkar et al. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials to investigate the impact of pomegranate juice on blood pressure. It suggested that pomegranate juice could significantly alleviate blood pressure.17
Like the pomegranate, prune also contains antioxidants known to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
A researcher conducted a study to investigate the effects of prune on blood pressure by comparing three groups. The first group ate three prunes per day, while the second group ate six prunes per day. The third group, a controlled group, only took a glass of plain water.28 The researchers found a significant decrease in participants' blood pressure in the first group compared to the control group.28 Participants in the second group also showed an additional reduction in systolic blood pressure.28
Berries are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are one of the crucial components that might reduce blood pressure levels and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In a randomised controlled study by Tjelle et al., polyphenol-rich berry juice such as chokeberries, red grapes, cherries, and bilberries might lower the blood pressure level among participants who have normal and high blood pressure. However, the impact of polyphenol-rich berry juice is more prominent among participants with hypertension when the researchers analysed the findings for hypertensive subjects separately.
Several studies suggested low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk and yoghurt – which contain calcium, potassium and magnesium – might help lower blood pressure.25,26
Ghadeer et al. conducted a study with participants aged 40-59 from the UK and the USA.27 They found that each 195 g/1000 kcal increase in low-fat dairy intake is associated with lower systolic blood pressure (-2.31 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (-2.27 mmHg). Thus, the researcher concluded that nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium in dairy might contribute to lower blood pressure levels.27
Several types of tea could help maintain a healthy blood pressure level. One example is hibiscus tea – scientifically known as hibiscus sabdariffa. People drink hibiscus tea as an alternative to blood pressure medication.8
A study suggested that hibiscus tea could effectively improve blood pressure reading in people with stage 1 hypertension.8 Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis demonstrated the benefits of drinking hibiscus tea in reducing blood pressure.7
Green tea is another example of a tea that helps alleviate high blood pressure. A meta-analysis in 2014 showed that long-term consumption of a low dose of green tea significantly lowered the participants' systolic and diastolic blood pressure.19 The researchers also suggested that green tea has caffeine that might increase blood pressure and thus should be consumed moderately.19
Effect of Coffee and Alcohol on Blood Pressure
According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC), daily coffee consumption is not associated with heart disease and hypertension.20 A researcher suggested that only two to three cups of coffee a day can benefit your heart.20 However, you should not increase your coffee intake if it makes you feel jittery or uncomfortable.20 So, how might coffee beans benefit the heart? People often tie coffee with caffeine when it is more than that. Like tomatoes, coffee beans contain over 100 biologically active compounds vital to lower high blood pressure.20
We have to keep an eye on how much we drink. According to the American Heart Association, excessive drinking of alcohol can increase your blood pressure.21 It might be different depending on the individual. However, NHS advice men and women to not regularly drink more than 14 units a week.29
What is the best drink to lower my blood pressure?
Each drink recommended above that lowers your blood pressure has its own unique health benefits. Importantly, all of them have high potential to lower your blood pressure level. Thus, you can choose which drink suits your taste.
Other tips on lowering blood pressure
Exercising every day is an excellent way to lower blood pressure. Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes per week or roughly 30 minutes most days of the week of regular physical activity to decrease your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.13 It is also vital to regularly exercise to maintain healthy blood pressure.13
Various physical activity to lower blood pressure is recommended by the American Heart Association, including walking, biking, dancing, swimming, active yoga, jogging and singles tennis.14
Eat a healthy diet
You can try Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet which focuses on preventing and treating high blood pressure. The DASH diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds.15 It also restricts intake of foods rich that is high in saturated fat and refined sugar.15 A study has shown that the DASH diet has a significant impact on lowering blood pressure levels.
We are no stranger to the dangerous effects of smoking. Cigarettes release poisonous chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide when they burn, leading to an increased risk of cancer.22 A study also suggested that smoking one cigarette per day can increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. Thus, quitting smoking would benefit your health.23
However, quitting smoking can be a challenging journey. There are several tips on the internet that might help. Or, you can get help from a doctor or specialist who can guide you on quitting smoking.
Reduce stress levels
You are burdened with work, commitment, or financial problems in everyday life. Thus, it is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed sometimes. However, it can be problematic if you continuously feel stressed. A study investigated the effects of stress on young health care profession students and elucidated that persistent stress increases their blood pressure reading.24
There are several ways to reduce stress levels, such as exercising, doing favoured activities, or spending time with friends.
In summary, there are plenty of alternatives that you can do to maintain your healthy blood pressure without any side effects. Remember, your health is important.
If you’re still unsure about the best way to control your blood pressure, you can ask for help from your doctor.
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- High blood pressure and older adults [Internet]. National Institute on Aging. [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure-and-older-adults
- The facts about high blood pressure [Internet]. www.heart.org. [cited 2022 May 24]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure
- Blood pressure matters [Internet]. NIH News in Health. 2017 [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/01/blood-pressure-matters
- Four million people are living with untreated high blood pressure, new estimates show [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 25]. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/may/four-million-people-are-living-with-untreated-high-blood-pressure
- CDC. High blood pressure symptoms, causes, and problems | cdc. Gov [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2022 May 24]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm
- Ellis LR, Zulfiqar S, Holmes M, Marshall L, Dye L, Boesch C. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure and cardiometabolic markers. Nutrition Reviews [Internet]. 2022 May 9 [cited 2022 May 24];80(6):1723–37. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/80/6/1723/6470525
- Jalalyazdi M, Ramezani J, Izadi-Moud A, Madani-Sani F, Shahlaei S, Ghiasi S. Effect of hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension. J Adv Pharm Technol Res [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 May 26];10(3):107. Available from: http://www.japtr.org/text.asp?2019/10/3/107/261971
- Rashmi HB, Negi PS. Health benefits of bioactive compounds from vegetables. In: Swamy MK, editor. Plant-derived Bioactives [Internet]. Singapore: Springer Singapore; 2020 [cited 2022 May 26]. p. 115–66. Available from: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-981-15-1761-7_5
- Odai T, Terauchi M, Okamoto D, Hirose A, Miyasaka N. Unsalted tomato juice intake improves blood pressure and serum low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol level in local Japanese residents at risk of cardiovascular disease. Food Sci Nutr [Internet]. 2019 May 15 [cited 2022 May 24];7(7):2271–9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6657743/
- Bonilla Ocampo DA, Paipilla AF, Marín E, Vargas-Molina S, Petro JL, Pérez-Idárraga A. Dietary nitrate from beetroot juice for hypertension: a systematic review. Biomolecules [Internet]. 2018 Nov 2 [cited 2022 May 26];8(4):134. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316347/
- Beetroot juice lowers high blood pressure, suggests research [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 26]. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2015/january/beetroot-and-blood-pressure
- 10 drug-free ways to control high blood pressure [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 May 26]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974
- Arnett DK, Blumenthal RS, Albert MA, Buroker AB, Goldberger ZD, Hahn EJ, et al. 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation [Internet]. 2019 Sep 10 [cited 2022 May 26];140(11):e596–646. Available from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678
- Harnden KE, Frayn KN, Hodson L. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (Dash) diet: applicability and acceptability to a UK population. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics [Internet]. 2010 Feb [cited 2022 May 26];23(1):3–10. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2009.01007.x
- Stowe CB. The effects of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice [Internet]. 2011 May 1 [cited 2022 May 27];17(2):113–5. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388110000769
- Sahebkar A, Ferri C, Giorgini P, Bo S, Nachtigal P, Grassi D. Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological Research [Internet]. 2017 Jan [cited 2022 May 27];115:149–61. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1043661816307848
- Tjelle TE, Holtung L, Bøhn SK, Aaby K, Thoresen M, Wiik SÅ, et al. Polyphenol-rich juices reduce blood pressure measures in a randomised controlled trial in high normal and hypertensive volunteers. British Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2015 Oct [cited 2022 May 26];114(7):1054–63. Available from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/polyphenolrich-juices-reduce-blood-pressure-measures-in-a-randomised-controlled-trial-in-high-normal-and-hypertensive-volunteers/8B268D98D3AC8242545D913730AA556B
- Peng X, Zhou R, Wang B, Yu X, Yang X, Liu K, et al. Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2014 Sep 1 [cited 2022 May 27];4:6251. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150247/
- Good news for coffee lovers: daily coffee may benefit the heart [Internet]. American College of Cardiology. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2022/03/23/17/55/
- Limiting alcohol to manage high blood pressure [Internet]. www.heart.org. [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/limiting-alcohol-to-manage-high-blood-pressure
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- Soedamah-Muthu SS, Verberne LDM, Ding EL, Engberink MF, Geleijnse JM. Dairy consumption and incidence of hypertension: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Hypertension [Internet]. 2012 Nov [cited 2022 May 27];60(5):1131–7. Available from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.195206
- Aljuraiban GS, Stamler J, Chan Q, Horn LV, Daviglus ML, Elliott P, et al. Relations between dairy product intake and blood pressure: the INTERnational study on MAcro/micronutrients and blood Pressure. J Hypertens [Internet]. 2018 Oct [cited 2022 May 27];36(10):2049–58. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591711/
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- High blood pressure (Hypertension) - Prevention [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/prevention/