6 Drinks that lower blood pressure

There are two major risk factors for high blood pressure that you can't control: age and family genetics. What can you control? Everything else, making smart lifestyle choices, such as being physically active, reducing your sodium intake, and eating healthy. If you do those things, you're on the right track. But you can add another step by looking at what you say: these six drinks can contribute to a drop in blood pressure, especially in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

1. Skimmed milk

How it works: Calcium deficiencies have long been associated with high blood pressure, and the reverse is also true: high calcium intake helps reduce high blood pressure. However, it is important to choose the right type of milk for the best result. Skimmed milk is richer in calcium than whole milk, and the modest amount of fat helps you to absorb calcium more easily. Win-win!

Suggestion: as part of a daily regimen, three servings of skim milk and other low-fat dairy products have been shown to help reduce systolic blood pressure.

2. Beet juice

How it works: Beets are a good source of potassium — and a good source of folic acid, both of which are important in regulating blood pressure. In addition, beets contain nitrate, which after ingestion is converted into nitrites. Nitrites relax smooth muscle tissue and increase blood flow. Finally, beets support healthy blood vessel function and fight homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels.

Suggestion: Research suggests that one to two cups of beet juice per day can immediately (within an hour after consumption) and significantly lower blood pressure. An English study found that beet juice was as effective as nitrate tablets in the treatment of hypertension.

3. Hibiscus Tea

How it works: like pomegranate juice, hibiscus contains bioactive phyto-chemicals that act as a natural ACE inhibitor. One study showed that hibiscus tea was as effective in lowering blood pressure as captopril, a prescription ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

Suggestion: In a widely published study, three portions of eight ounce of hibiscus tea significantly reduced systolic blood pressure of pre-hypertensive subjects. Strive for three cups a day — and for best results, prepare fresh tea every day.

4. Pomegranate juice

How it works: ACE is an enzyme that increases blood pressure by producing a protein called angiotensin II, which causes your blood vessels to contract. Pomegranate juice acts as a natural ACE inhibitor, similar to the class of prescribed drugs for the treatment of hypertension and heart failure. In one case, pomegranate juice reduced ACE by 36 percent, and also reduced systolic blood pressure. It has also been associated with a handful of recent studies to significantly reduce the arterial plaque (up to 30 percent) and increase the blood supply to the heart.

Suggestion: nutritional guru Jonny Bowden recommends drinking six grams of unsweetened pomegranate juice every day. Too sharp? Cut two portions of three ounces with water or sparkling mineral water.

5. Cranberry juice

How it works: cranberries and cranberry juice have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help prevent and reduce damage in the vessels, preventing an undesirable increase in blood pressure. In addition, cranberry juice can help lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow. Finally, cranberries are an excellent source of antihypertensive vitamin C.

Suggestion: there is no standard recommendation for the amount of cranberry juice to drink as part of a daily regimen, but be sure to choose the unsweetened variety that is 100 percent cranberry juice. With 60 calories per serving one cup, you can get two servings and still get fewer calories than you would get with the sweetened things, which on average contain about 130 calories per cup.

6. Water

How it works: Drinking enough water is simply one of the healthiest, cheapest and most effective ways to lower your blood pressure. Chronic dehydration causes blood vessels to contract, which helps the body save water by reducing water loss from perspiration, urination and breathing. Unfortunately, narrowed blood vessels require your heart to work harder, resulting in an increase in blood pressure.

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