Change your diet—and be consistent.
The DASH—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables and low-fat foods and nonfat dairy items, is a widely recommended approach for lowering blood pressure. Studies show that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as 14 days, especially in people with moderately high blood pressure or prehypertension. For those with severe high blood pressure who need medication, the DASH diet can help improve the response to medication and help lower cholesterol, too. The DASH diet is recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Heart Association, and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The key to lowering blood pressure using this approach is that you "have to be consistent on a day-in, day-out basis," says Clyde Yancy, president of the AHA and medical director at the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. There's one potential obstacle, if cost is a concern: "It's actually a more expensive diet to consume" because of the need for fresh fruits and vegetables, he says.