My Healthy Blood Pressure Program
You'll be well on your way to promoting healthy blood pressure and feeling really good about your health—and about yourself—after two months on my healthy blood pressure program. Let's get started.
- Week One: Focus on Diet
- Week Two: Get Up and Move!
- Week Three: Begin Taking Targeted Supplements
- Week Four: Overcome Anger and Tend to Your Spirit
Week One: Focus on Diet
There is no lifestyle modification more powerful than diet. My nutrition recommendations are based on the Pan Asian and Mediterranean ways of eating. It's been shown that people in those areas have 76 percent fewer cardiac events than elsewhere in the world. During your first week on my program, choose foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Try to choose at least five foods each day from the charts below.
These three nutrients are key for promoting healthy blood pressure and maintaining heart health. For that reason, foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium are an integral part of my Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet.
|Recommended Foods Highest in Potassium|
|Baked potato (with skin)||Natto (soy product)|
|Beef eye of round||Pinto beans|
|Crabs, blue||Sweet potato|
|Free-range chicken||White beans*|
* Foods highest in potassium.
|Recommended Foods High in Calcium|
|Daikon*||Ricotta cheese, part skim*|
|Feta cheese||Skim milk*|
|Kelp||Yogurt, non-fat and low-fat|
* Foods highest in calcium.
|Recommended Foods High in Magnesium|
|Adzuki beans||Figs, dried*|
|All seafood||Pumpkin seeds*|
*Foods highest in magnesium.
Week Two: Get Up and Move!
You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to start exercising, nor do you need to join a health club. Just put on a pair of comfortable shoes and start walking.
New studies show that moderate activities such as regular walking, dancing, swimming, golf, and tennis can reduce blood pressure significantly. In fact, exercise is crucial to lowering blood pressure and keeping it low. No other lifestyle change will provide such immediate and enduring benefits to your health and well-being.
If you haven't been active for a while, start out easy-just ten minutes a day. Add five minutes a week to your walking regimen, building up to 30 minutes total, five days a week. Walk with friends to make it fun.
Avoid strenuous exercise, especially if you're just embarking on an exercise program. I advise my patients to never jog or run. Studies have shown a connection between heart attacks and sudden exertion. Talk to your doctor before you engage in more aggressive workouts, such as aerobics.
But don't feel you must engage in heart-straining exercise to reap big rewards. The Nurses' Health Study found that women who walked briskly at least three hours per week achieved results equivalent to jogging or aerobic dancing.
If you add some regular stretching or yoga exercises plus light weight training once or twice a week, you'll have a total-body conditioning regimen. Just make sure to be evaluated by a certified exercise specialist or physiologist for muscular strength first. Some of my patients have taken it upon themselves to lift weights on their own, but this is not the best approach. Once you get a baseline evaluation of your muscular strength, then you'll know what amount of weight you can safely lift and how many repetitions to do.
Week Three: Begin Taking Targeted Supplements
Coenzyme Q10: Research shows that 200-300 mg CoQ10 per day can lower blood pressure. CoQ10 makes cells healthier and less vulnerable to constriction, which can elevate pressure inside blood vessels. Many of my patients who take a water-soluble form of CoQ10 have cut their blood pressure drugs in half.
Magnesium + Calcium: It's hard to get sufficient levels of these critical minerals in your diet. That's why you must supplement. Magnesium helps regulate heart health and calcium keeps the blood vessels in shape. It's best to take 400 mg magnesium every day in conjunction with 1,000 mg calcium.
Note: Take these minerals after meals. If you have kidney problems, don't take supplemental magnesium or calcium without your doctor's approval.
Fish Oil: A recent study of 11,000 patients shows that fish oil promotes healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels-even better than vitamin E. I'm so thrilled with fish oil that it's part of my core program for heart health.
Garlic: The "stinking rose" acts similarly to ACE inhibitors to promote healthy blood pressure levels. A clove a day, chopped or minced in your food, is ample. I recommend garlic itself, because I'm not convinced that powdered garlic capsules have all the herb's active ingredients. If you really don't like garlic, 500-1,000 mg garlic in softgel form is your best defense.
Hawthorn: Studies show that hawthorn berry promotes blood flow in smaller vessels. It acts much like ACE inhibitors, preventing production of angiotensin 2, a powerful blood vessel constrictor responsible for increasing blood pressure. It also helps to ease angina and relieve congestive heart failure. Take 500 mg 2-3 times a day until you see results.
Week Four: Overcome Anger and Tend to Your Spirit
As you begin the fourth week of my blood pressure-lowering program, I want you to introduce an element overlooked by most cardiologists-your emotional and spiritual health.
Does an unresolved conflict eat away at you? Are you often short-tempered with your spouse, children, colleagues-or even a driver who cuts you off in traffic? You may be thinking, "Of course I am. Isn't everybody?"
What you may not be aware of is that these responses trigger a whole physiological cascade that culminates in the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, into your bloodstream. Cortisol in excessive amounts can signal your body to step up the production of blood platelets, which can then clump together to form dangerous clots.
Basically, repressed anger, frustration, and fear are hidden risk factors for heart disease and hypertension. You probably should consider psychotherapy if your health is at stake. Without a professional's input, you may not be able to pinpoint what's really going on. I have noticed that it's often difficult for patients to realize that their physical disease may actually be an emotional symptom traveling incognito.
Other helpful action steps to take include:
- Seeing a counselor or talking to a friend, clergyman, or rabbi.
- Finding creative, healthy ways to release your anger, such as crying at sad movies, hitting tennis or golf balls, writing in a journal, painting, drawing.
- Taking up yoga, tai chi, dancing, meditation, guided visualization, or deep breathing.
- Sitting quietly for 10-15 minutes a day.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Understanding Blood Pressure
What should your blood pressure reading be? Find out what your blood pressure numbers should be and what causes high blood pressure.
What are the symptoms and risk factors associated with high blood pressure? Learn about the health consequences of having high blood pressure.
How do you know if your blood pressure reading is accurate? Find out the important steps you need to take to get the most accurate blood pressure reading.
What is White Coat Hypertension? Learn how this common condition could be causing your high blood pressure readings.
Want the inside scoop on common blood pressure medications? Find out about treating high blood pressure with prescription drugs.
Enjoy What You've Just Read?
Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides for Dr. Sinatra!
Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Favorites
Doctor-recommended support for healthy cholesterol ratios, blood pressure & overall heart health
Refuel your cellular engines for efficient heart function
Strength, energy, endurance--get the targeted nutrient support a man needs most
Stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and balanced with nutrient support designed to meet a woman's needs