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.

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