With all that’s going on, who wants to worry about their blood pressure? Not us! And the good news is, we don’t have to. If recent research is to be believed, doing what makes us feel best is the best for our health. Here, the science-proven ways to lower your BP fast!
Phone a friend.
Calling an upbeat, supportive friend once weekly for a 20-minute chat trims 15 points off your blood pressure, Swedish scientists say. That’s enough to cut the risk of heart disease and stroke in half! Researchers explain that weekly reminders that you’re valued and loved tamp down the production of the stress hormone cortisol, relaxing arteries and lowering blood pressure as effectively as quitting smoking.
Gaze at a candle.
Breathing slowly and deeply (taking 10 relaxed breaths per minute instead of the more common 16) lowers blood pressure up to 17 points, Harvard University researchers say. “Calm breathing stimulates brain nerves that initiate a relaxation response,” explains Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Mind/Body Effect. To do: Twice each day, relax near a lit candle and gaze at the flickering flame while you practice deep breathing for two minutes.
Pamper your feet.
Aah, soaking your feet in warm water at the end of a long day is more than just a moment of bliss. Turns out, this pampering ritual does wonders for keeping your blood pressure in check. The reason: As warmer blood begins circulating up from your feet, it triggers blood vessels to release a compound called nitric oxide that relaxes artery walls. Canadian investigators say 15-minute soaks daily can trim up to 15 points off your blood pressure within a week.
Calm with cardamom.
This aromatic spice has a rich, slightly sweet flavor, and research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests adding half a teaspoon to your daily diet could trim six points off your blood pressure in two months. Sam Verma, MD, explains cardamom’s cineole acts like a calcium channel blocker, relaxing the muscles lining blood vessel walls. Tip: A pinch of cardamom livens up baked goods, rice dishes, and coffee.
Make your own cardamom-spiced milk and honey by combining a quarter-teaspoon of ground cardamom, a quarter teaspoon of ginger, a quarter teaspoon of ground turmeric, one star anise pod, and a quarter cup water. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for two more minutes. Then, stir in two-thirds cup of almond milk or low-fat milk and honey. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors blend for two to three minutes.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.