Drink This To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Fresh Cranberry Juice

When you want to lower your blood pressure, think beyond slashing salt, calories and fat — and also consider what you can add to your diet. More vegetables, fruits and lean protein, says the Institute of Medicine in a February 2010 report on preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Plus, recent research points to three beverages that also may help to lower blood pressure.

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Consider drinking more of the following:

Hibiscus Tea

Wondering about how to lower blood pressure? It’s as easy as one, two, tea: Study participants who sipped 3 cups of a hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure by 7 points in 6 weeks on average, say researchers from Tufts University–results on par with many prescription medications. Those who received a placebo drink improved their reading by only 1 point.

The phytochemicals in hibiscus are probably responsible for the large reduction in high blood pressure, say the study authors. Many herbal teas contain hibiscus; look for blends that list it near the top of the chart of ingredients–this often indicates a higher concentration per serving.

Low- or Nonfat Milk

Both supply potassium and calcium, two nutrients that are associated with healthy blood pressure, and are fortified with vitamin D—a vitamin that new research suggests promotes healthy blood pressure. Substituting low-fat dairy—including milk—for full-fat versions may also help lower blood pressure, reports a 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. In healthy people, arteries are “elastic”: they relax (widen) and constrict (narrow) to keep blood pressure within a normal range. Full-fat dairy contains significant amounts of palmitic acid (much more than low-fat dairy), which can block signals that relax blood vessels, leaving them in a constricted state that may keep blood pressure elevated.

Cranberry Juice

At your next celebration, raise a glass of…cranberry juice? Turns out, cranberry juice has the same blood pressure–lowering effects as red wine, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (The study was partially funded by Ocean Spray.) Both beverages—as well as apple juice and cocoa—boast antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, which inhibit synthesis of a compound called ET-1 that plays a role in constricting blood vessels.

Energy Foods—Are You Eating Them?

There are many links between what we eat and how we feel. It is scientifically proven that changing your diet can alter your metabolism and brain chemistry, ultimately affecting your energy level and mood.

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Foods can boost energy in three ways: by providing sufficient calories, by delivering stimulants like caffeine, and by pushing the metabolism to burn fuel more efficiently. As for mood, the best foods are those that stabilize blood sugar and trigger feel-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin. Keep clicking to learn which foods and drinks can do the job.

Smart Carbs

Carbs may be the foe of fad diets, but they’re vital for boosting energy and mood. They are the body’s preferred source of fuel, plus they raise serotonin levels. The key is to avoid sweets, which cause blood sugar to spike and plummet, leading to fatigue and moodiness. Instead, turn to whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and cereal. The body absorbs whole grains more slowly, keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Cashews, Almonds, and Hazelnuts

These nuts are not only rich in protein, but they also contain magnesium, a mineral that plays a vital role in converting sugar into energy. Research suggests magnesium deficiency can drain your energy. Magnesium is also found in whole grains, particularly bran cereals, and in some types of fish, including halibut.

Salmon

Fatty fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest this substance may protect against depression. While the extent of the link is uncertain, omega-3 fatty acids offer a wide range of other benefits, including heart health. Besides fish, sources of omega-3 include nuts and leafy, dark green vegetables.

Leafy Greens

Another nutrient that may reduce the risk of depression is folate. Like omega-3 fatty acids, folate is found in leafy green vegetables, including spinach and romaine lettuce. Legumes, nuts, and citrus fruits are also good sources of folate.

Fresh Produce

Another way to stay hydrated and energized is to eat fluid-filled foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Skip dry packaged snacks like pretzels in favor of apple wedges or celery. Other hydrating foods include oatmeal and pasta, which swell up with water when cooked.