Hypertension puts numerous Americans at risk for heart failure, kidney failure and stroke; but what's more disturbing is the fact that many don't even know they have it. High blood pressure often occurs without any warning signs. That said, when it is diagnosed, patients are usually treated with prescribed medications that come with a host of undesirable side-effects, such as dizziness and dehydration. Fortunately, most people can control their hypertension naturally by making lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and eating the right types of food. What is hypertension? Put simply: your blood pressure is the force or pressure your blood applies to your artery walls. Every single time your heart beats, it flushes blood into your arteries. The pressure is greatest when the heart is pumping blood (systolic pressure), and the pressure is lowest between each heart beat (diastolic pressure). What should my reading be? When you go to the doctor's office, a nurse usually takes your blood pressure by testing both your systolic and diastolic pressures. Most often, one is placed over the other to provide a general "reading." If your reading rests at 120/80 or lower, you are said to have normal pressure; if it is above 140/90, your pressure is considered high; if your systolic pressure falls between 120 and 139 and/or your diastolic pressure falls between 80 and 89, you may have prehypertension. What can I do? Although many consider hypertension to be a disease, it is actually a symptom of a greater problem. To get more oxygen to our organs and muscles, our bodies increase blood pressure when necessary. Often, this is prompted by poor lifestyle habits that negatively affect our overall health. If you want to lower your blood pressure naturally, you should reduce your body mass, eat a better diet and exercise more. That said, not everyone knows what they should and shouldn't be eating. If you've got hypertension, you should stop eating or substantially limit your consumption of fast food, processed food, junk food, sodas, sugar and unhealthy oils. Not only do these foods clog your vasculature, they promote weight gain, which ultimately increases blood pressure. You can also reduce hypertension by eating foods and herbs that naturally reduce hypertension. These include, bananas, cinnamon and garlic. There are also some very good all-natural dietary supplements available at your local health food store; however, before you take any type of herb, you should consult a physician.