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10 pill-free ways to keep BP in check

Here are 10 pill-free ways to keep your blood pressure in check this summer

Drink coconut water
This mild tropical drink can lower blood pressure as much as 12 points for 71 per cent of people. Coconut water is packed with 1,500 mg of potassium per 20-ounce serving. This mineral helps calm the entire central nervous system, preventing artery-damaging blood pressure surges when life gets hectic. Look for coconut water in grocery stores and whole foods stores.

Season with sesame oil
The oil's healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids and unique sesamin compound work together to relax blood vessel walls, preventing pressure spikes. Cook your meals in sesame oil or sprinkle them on rice or salad.

Cook with cardamom
When people suffering from hypertension add 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom to their daily diets, it helps normalise their blood pressure in as little as 12 weeks. Cardamom is a slightly citrusy flavoured spice, which is packed with plant compounds that keep the muscles of your heart and arteries relaxed, so pressure surges are less likely to occur.

Drink tea generously
Despite all the fuss around green tea, black tea is far more beneficial, says a recent study. They are, after all, made from the leaves of the same plant and contain the same artery-relaxing antioxidants, which are essential. For optimum results, dunk the tea bag up and down a few times instead of just letting it q u i e t l y steep. Sip 36 ounces of tea daily (three big mugs), and you'll slash your risk of hypertension by 65 per cent.

See more green
Looking at a scenic tranquil picture can lower your blood pressure as much as nine per cent. Looking at nature increases your brain's production of soothing alpha-waves that calm your central nervous system and clamp down the production of the pressureraising stress hormone cortisol. Hanging a beautiful nature photo in your room or opening the blinds — if you're lucky enough to have a soothing view — also work.

Sit straight
There are nerves in your neck that send calming messages to your brain and slouching squishes the vertebrae and discs in your neck, p i n c h i n g those delicate nerves and hindering their function. When you slouch and sit, it ups your blood pressure by as much as 16 per cent.

Stock up on potatoes
According to another research, savouring a potato every day (as long as you eat it mashed, boiled or baked — not fried) helps 81 per cent of people get their blood pressure under control (and with just half their usual prescription meds).

Tubers are packed with potassium, chlorogenic acid and tryptophan, and these compounds work handin-hand to relax and open the blood vessels that nourish your heart.

For top-notch blood pressure control, eat the skin. That is where most of the potato's nutrients are stored.

Take deep breaths
Breathing slowly and deeply, taking 10 relaxed breaths per minute, instead of the more common 16, helps women slash 14 points off their blood pressure in one month. Calm breathing stalls production of stress hormones and that's essential for keeping arteries relaxed and blood pressure in check.

Ditch 'low-fat' food

The problem with processed foods that claim are low fat or fat-free is that in order to give them a decent texture and taste, manufacturers pack them with sugar, which is a potent, high blood pressure trigger. When your blood sugar surges, it causes damaging inflammation inside your blood vessels, escalating the build-up of the arterys t i f f e n i n g plaque.

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