If you’ve known someone to suffer a stroke in winter, there’s a reason why it might have happened then: According to Yale University researchers, chilly temperatures can tighten arteries and thicken blood, upping the odds of a clot. Thankfully, experts say these comforting tricks offer protection all winter long!
Sip Hot Water
Wake up with a comforting mug of hot water mixed with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and honey, and reach for a couple of tangerines throughout the day. Both provide extra fluids that gently thin blood to ward off clots, says cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD. “Plus, the vitamin C and bioflavonoids in citrus strengthen and heal your brain’s blood vessels.” No wonder Danish investigators say citrus-lovers are 42 percent less likely to have a stroke!
Crack a ‘Dad Joke’
Sharing your grandpa’s punny jokes is good for you-even if they make you groan! University of Michigan scientists say grinning a few times daily curbs stroke risk by 27 percent. Smiles (even forced ones!) instantly rein in production of the troublesome stress hormone cortisol, warding off artery-damaging inflammation.
Dip Bread in EVOO
Drizzling extra-virgin olive oil over pasta or warm bread lowers stroke risk by 73 percent, a study in Neurology found. Study co-author Cathy Feart, PhD, says an EVOO compound (oleuropein) stops blood cells from sticking together to form clots. The proven dose: 3 tablespoon daily.
Savor a Soak
On a cold day, nothing beats a hot bath. And Swedish scientists say daily soaks prod the body to release compounds (heat shock proteins) that nix artery spasms, cutting stroke risk by 62 percent. Bonus: Evening tub time helps you drift off 55 percent faster. And Tulane University scientists found 8 hours of nightly sleep cuts stroke risk by 35 percent.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.