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Eating heart-healthy foods and taking blood pressure medication may help lower your diastolic blood pressure over time. But if your blood pressure goes too low, it can lead to heart damage.

There are many things you can do to lower your blood pressure overall, such as making lifestyle changes and taking blood pressure medications.

However, if you only have high diastolic blood pressure, you can’t target that alone. You’ll need to work closely with your doctor to reduce your diastolic blood pressure while not letting it drop lower than 60 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Diastolic blood pressure that’s too low can lead to heart damage and may increase your risk for heart disease.

Read on to learn some of the many ways you can lower your blood pressure and to learn more about hypertension.

Follow the 20 tips below to help lower your overall blood pressure, including diastolic blood pressure.

1. Focus on heart-healthy foods

Foods that are an integral part of a heart-healthy diet include:

  • vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and carrots
  • fruits, such as apples, oranges, and bananas
  • fish, particularly those rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • lean cuts of beef or pork
  • skinless chicken or turkey
  • eggs
  • fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt
  • whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-grain bread
  • nuts and beans

2. Limit saturated and trans fats

Try not to eat foods that are high in saturated or trans fats. Examples include fast food, hot dogs, and frozen food.

Instead, try to focus on consuming healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can be found in things like avocados, olive or canola oil, and nuts.

3. Reduce sodium in your diet

Sodium can increase blood pressure, so limit your intake to 1,500 milligrams or less per day.

4. Eat more potassium

Potassium can actually counteract the effect that sodium has on your blood pressure.How potassium can help control high blood pressure. (2016). http://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure Try to boost consumption of foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, spinach, and tomatoes.

5. Lay off the caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can raise blood pressure. If you have hypertension, try to limit your intake, particularly before activities that can raise blood pressure, such as exercise.

6. Cut back on alcohol

Drinking excess alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Consume it in moderation. That means two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

7. Ditch sugar

Foods with added sugars can add calories to your diet that you don’t need. Avoid foods and drinks that contain added sugars or sweeteners, such as soft drinks, cakes, and candies.

8. Switch to dark chocolate

A 2010 analysis of 15 studies suggests that dark chocolate may slightly reduce blood pressure.Ried K, et al. (2010) Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-8-39 If you’re eating chocolate, choose dark chocolate over other types, and make sure it’s at least 70 percent cocoa.12 heart-healthy foods to work into your diet. (2015). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/12-heart-healthy-foods-to-work-into-your-diet/

9. Try the DASH eating plan

The DASH eating plan can help you practice a heart-healthy diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, several studies have shown that following the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.DASH eating plan. (n.d.). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan

10. Be sure to check labels

Sometimes, you can consume foods with too many calories, sodium, or fat without knowing it. You can avoid this by carefully reading food labels, noting things such as calories per serving, sodium, and fat content.

11. Lose weight

Losing a little bit of weight can help a lot in lowering your blood pressure. In fact, you can lower your blood pressure by approximately 1 mmHg for every two pounds you lose.Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). 10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974

12. Watch your waistline

A larger waistline can put you at a greater risk of heart disease. Generally speaking, to reduce their risk, men should aim to keep their waistline under 40 inches. Women should try for less than 35 inches.Heart-healthy living. (n.d.). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-living

13. Stay active

Not only can aerobic activities and exercises help you lose weight, but they can also help you lower your blood pressure. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week.

Examples of some aerobic activities include:

  • walking
  • running or jogging
  • swimming
  • cycling
  • using an elliptical machine

14. Reduce stress

Stress is another thing that can raise your blood pressure. Try to avoid things that trigger stress. Practicing activities such as meditation or deep breathing may also help lower stress.

15. Stop smoking

The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant that can increase your blood pressure. It can also lead to injury of the walls of your blood vessels. Not only is quitting smoking beneficial for your overall health, but it can also help lower your blood pressure.

16. Try supplements

Although more research may be needed, some studies show that supplements such as garlic can help lower blood pressure.Ried K. (2016). Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, regulates serum cholesterol, and stimulates immunity: An updated meta-analysis and review. DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.202192

17. Use probiotics

Probiotics are bacteria that are beneficial to your digestion. A 2016 review article suggests that taking probiotics may work to lower blood pressure.Upadrasta A, et al. (2016). Probiotics and blood pressure: Current insights. DOI: 10.2147/IBPC.S73246 However, more studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how exactly probiotics affect blood pressure.

18. Give acupuncture a try

A 2007 study indicated that traditional Chinese acupuncture helped lower blood pressure. However, this effect went away after acupuncture treatment stopped.Flachskampf FA, et al. (2007). Randomized trial of acupuncture to lower blood pressure. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.661140

19. Monitor blood pressure at home

Monitoring your blood pressure at home not only helps you know if your treatment is working, but it can also alert you if your hypertension is worsening.

20. Consider prescription medications

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure. Common blood pressure medications include:

Blood pressure readings measure the force that blood exerts on the walls of your arteries. When these readings become too high, you’re said to have high blood pressure, or hypertension.

There are two numbers generated when your blood pressure is measured. The first number is your systolic blood pressure. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure.

A lot of attention has been given over the years to systolic blood pressure, which steadily increases as you age, as the more important of the two numbers.

Now, it’s understood that both numbers are equally important, and you can be diagnosed with hypertension if either number is too high. People with high diastolic blood pressure may be more at risk for developing high systolic blood pressure as well.Graves J. (2010). Lowering elevated diastolic pressure will lessen chance of developing elevated systolic blood pressure. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/lowering-elevated-diastolic-blood-pressure-will-lessen-chance-of-developing-elevated-systolic-blood-pressure/

Diastolic vs. systolic

Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the walls of your arteries between heartbeats. A normal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg.

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the walls of your arteries when your heart beats. A normal systolic blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer because people with high blood pressure often have no symptoms. Many people find out they have hypertension during a routine physical examination at their doctor’s office.

Symptoms of hypertension are often only present when the condition has become severe. They can include:

  • headaches
  • feeling short of breath
  • nosebleeds

Hypertension can lead to damage of your arteries. This damage can affect other organs of your body as well. When hypertension is left untreated, it can put you at risk for a variety of dangerous complications or conditions, including:

A blood pressure reading is typically taken as a normal part of a doctor’s visit. Many people find out they have hypertension in this setting. If you have hypertension, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that’s optimal for you.

There are also many types of blood pressure monitors available for purchase so you can take your blood pressure at home. If you choose to do this, bring your monitor to your next doctor’s appointment so they can show you how to properly use it to obtain accurate readings.

A single high blood pressure reading at home shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Be sure to log the reading and continue taking your blood pressure on your normal schedule. If you continue to receive high readings, make an appointment with your doctor.

Find an at-home blood pressure monitor here.

There are many ways to lower your diastolic blood pressure, including lifestyle changes and medications. It’s important to remember that you can’t just target your diastolic blood pressure alone. You’ll have to lower your blood pressure as a whole.

If you have high diastolic blood pressure, it’s important to talk to your doctor and work with them to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.