The heart rate, also known as pulse rate, is the number of times the heart beats every minute. The normal heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats a minute, according to the University of Virginia Health System, although athletes can have a rate as low as 40 beats per minute. The heart rate is important because it measures the rhythm of the heart as well as the strength of the blood flow. A high heart rate otherwise known as tachycardia (or more than 100 beats per minute consistently in an adult) can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease as well as to produce symptoms such as sweating, nausea or vomiting. Common foods, such as raisins and bananas, can lower heart rate, as well as yoga and exercise.

Checking Heart Rate
A person can check their pulse by placing two fingers on the arteries on the wrist or the neck. Count the number of heart beats in 10 seconds and multiply the total by 6. Do not use the thumb, as there is a blood vessel in the thumb that can confuse readings.Exercise Lowers Heart Rate
The best way to reduce heart rate over time is to exercise. Aerobic exercise and a slower resting heart rate are attained when the heart is strong. The heart is a muscle that can become stronger and work more efficiently when exercised, like any other muscle in the body. As the heart works more efficiently, it pumps blood better – so less beats are needed to circulate blood throughout the body.

Yoga Lowers Heart Rate
Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques can lower heart rate, according to Columbia University`s Department of Cardiac Surgery. For beginners, start with an audio tape or video tape. Any type of stretch or relaxation exercises lower the heart rate. Vigorous exercise, even strenuous yoga, can be stimulating and will not lower the heart rate.

Coffee Raises Heart Rate
Drinking coffee or consuming other caffeinated foods like tea or chocolate can increase heart rate. Eliminating coffee will allow the heart rate to stabilize.

Bananas Lower Heart Rate
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and potassium is needed to maintain a low heart rate, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms of low potassium include muscle cramps and lack of energy, which can lead to an irregular heartbeat. Bananas contain 400 mg of potassium in 96 calories. This is 11 percent of the daily requirement. Bananas have less than 1 mg of sodium, which makes them a valuable food for people on reduced sodium diets as well.

Raisins Lower Heart Rate
Raisins are also high in potassium and contain over 1000 mg of potassium, which is a third of the daily requirement. Raisins also have a low sodium content: 60 mg per serving.