Taking steps to keep your blood pressure steady – and lower it quickly if it starts creeping up – can cut your risk of heart disease and stroke in half, and it can keep your mind sharp as if you were 15 years younger, according to Cleveland Clinic researchers.
Even if your blood pressure was fine a few years ago, it’s smart to check it regularly. At least one in three people with high blood pressure doesn’t realize that the problem has crept up on them. Ask your doctor or use one of the free blood pressure monitors available at many pharmacies.
Here’s what the numbers mean:
- Less than 120/80 Normal
- 120/80 to 139/89 Prehypertension
- 140/90 or greater Hypertension
Some doctors don’t agree with this and categorize the ranges with age groups.
The good news is that controlling your BP is getting a lot easier.
Sip tea to nourish your blood vessels.
Drinking three cups of black, green, white or oolong tea daily can cut your risk of hypertension 46 percent – and lower your number of points if they’re already high, reports the Archives of Internal Medicine. The flavonoids in tea relax and dilate blood vessels and help block the formation of artery-stiffening plaques, says lead researcher Jonathan Hodgson, PhD. If your blood pressure is really stubborn, switching to hibiscus tea can trim your level 15 points.
Green veggies can erase hormonal triggers.
Fat cells produce a steady trickle of estrogen, even in women past menopause. Eating a heaping cup of broccoli, Brussel sprouts, or kale can cut your risk of high blood pressure by 50 percent, says Georgetown University researchers.
Take resveratrol to relax your muscles.
An analysis of six studies suggests that taking 200 mg of this grape skin and seed extract daily can widen arteries, improve blood flow, and prevent pressure spikes, trimming up to 11 points off your pressure. Resveratrol helps muscles surrounding arteries to relax and reduce inflammation, says study author Yanxia Liu, PhD.
Control cortisol with foot massage.
You can lower your blood pressure as much as five point in three months – the same improvement you’d get from a low-salt diet – by firmly massaging the bottoms of your feet for two minutes twice daily. To maximize the benefit, focus on the base of your big toes and the arch of each foot – areas that Chinese pros say are packed reflexology points that calm the adrenal glands, reduce their production of pressure-spiking cortisol.
Broccoli will keep sodium in check.
Too much sodium does raise blood pressure, but there’s an easy fix. Eat 3 cups of broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, or bok choy weekly. All are top sources of sulforaphane, a phytochemical that helps your kidneys flush out pressure -raising sodium, UCLA research shows. And that, say Oregon Health & Science University scientists, can trim your blood pressure 10 percent or more. Eating a half-cup of cooked tomatoes every day, too. Rich stores of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes also helps your kidneys excrete sodium, reports the American Health Journal.
Avoid spikes with CoQ10.
Supplementing with 120 mg of coenzyme Q10 keeps your artery walls relaxed 24/7, even when your stress level soars. Plus, it can trim your blood pressure as much as 17 points in three minutes, say University of Connecticut experts. Bonus: CoQ10 helps your cells convert food into usable energy, so much so that taking it chases away tiredness.
Stay calm with an upbeat book.
Increasing your production of the calming hormone dopamine and oxytocin can lower your blood pressure six points or more – and one of the quickest ways to get that soothing hormone boost is to spend 20 minutes a day reading something upbeat and inspiring real-life stories.
Avoid trouble by walking barefoot.
Having to sit all day at work has been linked to high blood pressure – but there’s a very simple antidote: Just walk around barefoot on a rough surface (like a walkway, patio, or a scratchy door mat) for 5 minutes twice a day. This can stimulate acupressure points on the soles of your feet that reduces stress, trimming 5 points off your blood pressure.
Clear your arteries with seafood.
Including three 6-oz servings of fish in your weekly diet can lower your blood pressure as effectively as eating a low-salt diet, say Harvard School of Public Health experts. “Fish’s protein, potassium, and healthy fats stall the buildup of artery – stiffening, pressure – rising plaque, plus help relax and dilate the blood vessels that nourish your heart” explains Michael Roizen, MD, author of This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets of Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want. Wow, I feel like I’ve read the whole book.
That’s it for now my friends; see you all the next time.