Lots of people would have you believe that medication is the only way to reduce your blood pressure, but that is simply not true. In fact, there are a number of different ways that you can effectively lower your blood pressure naturally. From meditation to diet and exercise, these natural remedies function to not only mask the symptoms of your condition but to actually heal and restore the body.

Roughly 50 million adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). If left untreated, hypertension can lead to kidney damage, stroke, heart attack, and even heart failure. Heart disease and stroke are actually the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. (Cancer ranks second.) This is one of the biggest reasons it is more important than ever to find effective remedies for the condition.

Doctors and researchers define high blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure (top number) of 140 or greater and a diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 90 or greater. The systolic pressure measures the pressure of the blood in the vessels of the heart when it contracts. The diastolic pressure indicates the pressure of the blood in between heartbeats as the heart is at rest.

While medication is often effective for reducing blood pressure levels, it can also cause a number of unwanted side effects, including leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. Fortunately, most individuals respond well to natural treatments for lowering blood pressure. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the first steps to reducing hypertension and regulating your blood pressure. Additionally, these strategies will help you reduce your blood pressure as well as your risk for heart disease.

1. Power Walk

Patients with hypertension who incorporated power walking into their weekly regimen decreased their blood pressure by almost 8 mmHg over 6 mmHg. Exercise strengthens the heart and helps it more efficiently use oxygen, so the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard to get blood throughout the body.

A vigorous cardio workout of at least 30 minutes most days of the week is the most beneficial for reducing blood pressure. Continue increasing your speed and distance to keep challenging your heart and body.

2. Meditate

Meditation and slow breathing, such as yoga and tai chi, decrease the stress hormones in the body that elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that increases blood pressure. To begin lowering your blood pressure, aim for at least 5 minutes in the morning and at night. Inhale deeply through your nose, expand your belly, and then exhale through your mouth, slowly releasing all of the tension in your body.

3. Increase Potassium

Potassium is an important nutrient for regulating blood pressure. Individuals looking to reduce their blood pressure should aim to include at least 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium a day. The best sources of potassium-rich food that can help you reduce your blood pressure include sweet potatoes, potatoes, bananas, peas, kidney beans, cantaloupe, prunes, and raisins.

4. Reduce Salt

Some individuals – the elderly, African Americans, and individuals with a family history of the heart disease – are more likely to suffer from hypertension that is particularly sensitive to salt or sodium. There is no specific way to determine who is sodium sensitive, so anyone attempting to lower blood pressure should lower his or her salt intake. For the best results, aim for 1,500 mg daily, which is about half of the average American intake. You’ll not only want to reduce the amount of salt you add to your food, but you’ll also need to sodium in processed foods, etc. Try seasoning your foods with herbs, spices, lemon, and salt-free blends instead.

5. Take CoQ10

CoQ10 is a supplement that has been found to reduce blood pressure by as much as 17 mmHg over 10 mmHg. The enzyme is an antioxidant that is required for energy production and dilates the blood vessels. Taking a supplement of 60 to 100 mg up to three times a day can drastically improve your blood pressure.

6. Reduce Caffeine

Caffeine can raise blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to tighten and amplifying the effects of stress. Both of these cause the blood to pump harder and faster, increasing the blood pressure. Reduce your daily caffeine intake by switching to decaf coffee, reducing the amount of soda you drink, and watching the caffeine content of the other foods you eat.

7. Work Less

Studies have shown that working 41 hours per week or more can increase your risk of hypertension by as much as 15%. Working extra hours also makes it difficult to exercise and eat healthy. As best as you can, try to create a standard work day and leave work at the office when you head home.

8. Monitor

Frequently monitoring your heart rate is another important strategy for reducing your blood pressure. This practice helps make you more aware of what negatively and positively affects your blood pressure so you can adjust accordingly. Wireless blood pressure monitors, like the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure system, make this easier than ever.

9. Eat Better

A healthy diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy minimizes saturated fat and cholesterol and can lower your blood pressure by as much as 14 mmHg. Many people know this type of eating as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Additionally, keeping a food dietary and reading food labels while you shop can help you make better choices and stick to this healthier way of eating.

10. Reduce Stress

Chronic stress is one of the biggest components that impacts blood pressure. Even occasional stress can contribute to hyper tension if you typically respond to stress by eating unhealthy foods, smoking, or consuming alcohol. Identify stressors in your life, and then take steps to reduce those in your life. Change your expectations, make time to relax each day, and practice being more grateful.

High blood pressure can drastically impact your quality of life if not regulated. Use these natural remedies to reduce your blood pressure effectively and enjoy a healthier, happier life.