When it comes to the benefits of dietary changes on your health, food tends to get the lion’s share of attention. Given how much food people eat on a regular basis, perhaps this is to be expected. Still, articles involving diet and health tend to give the short shrift to the beverage part of the equation, neglecting to mention the ability of certain liquids to extend your lifespan.
Articles about reducing blood pressure, for example, will probably encourage you to eat foods such as bananas and whole wheat cereals. And while there’s no doubting the validity of such advice, did you know that black tea can have the same effect? If you are curious as to what other drinks feature this characteristic, take a few minutes to read the following list.
Black Tea – We’ll start with the aforementioned black tea, a drink that dates back to China’s Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD). Surprisingly, this variant of tea didn’t initially catch on with the local populace, probably due to its noticeably sweet and potent taste. In stark contrast, black tea was a smash hit with foreigners, particularly with Scottish and English visitors. In fact, traders from both countries went as far as stealing tea plants and seeds from Chinese soil and bringing them back to Europe.
Those unscrupulous merchants might have been on to something; according to a 2012 study, drinking three cups of this Chinese import daily can reduce your blood pressure by 2 to 3 points. While that amount might look insignificant, shedding even a few points on your blood pressure reading can have a major impact on your health. According the study authors, those 2 to 3 points are equivalent to a 10% reduction in risk of high blood pressure. As an added bonus, consuming the same amount of tea also cuts your risk of heart disease and stroke by 7 percent.
Skim Milk – For millions of people, the day begins with a bowl of cereal mixed with whole milk. Though whole milk certainly has some alluring aspects, it is also loaded with unhealthy saturated fat. Skim milk, on the other hand, offers the best of both worlds, containing no fat while retaining the nutrients found in its fatter counterpart. In fact, skim milk actually contains more calcium than whole milk.
What does any of this have to do with blood pressure? Well, in addition to fortifying your bones, a steady intake of calcium has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels. In addition, the lack of fat in skim milk makes it easier for your body to absorb its calcium.
Hibiscus Tea – A hibiscus is simply a plant that flowers annually, usually producing red or pink petals. The leaves of this plant can be used to make hibiscus tea. It would be an understatement to say that this drink has a rich history; hibiscus tea which was first brewed by the ancient Egyptians, and was enjoyed by pharaohs along with other members of the ruling nobility.
Aside from its background, hibiscus tea also deserves attention for its ability to lower blood pressure levels. This millennia-old drink acts as a natural ACE inhibitor; in other words, it relaxes and widens blood vessels, helping to lower the body’s blood pressure to reasonable levels.
Pomegranate Juice – Like the hibiscus plant (and its accompanying tea), pomegranates have a storied past, originating thousands of years ago in Persia and India before arriving in the New World thanks to Spanish explorers. Pomegranate juice also shares another key trait with hibiscus tea – once inside the body, both mimic the behavior of ACE inhibitor medications. Those worried about heart disease should also consider purchasing some pomegranate juice from the local supermarket. According to one study, this beverage can reduce arterial plaque by as much as 30 percent.
Cranberry Juice – Just a cursory look at the nutritional value of cranberry juice reveals why this drink is held in high regard. A single cup contains 15% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin E, 16% DV of vitamin K and an impressive 39% DV of vitamin C. Cranberry juice is also packed with nutrients that alleviate inflammation and eliminate free radicals, thereby keeping your blood vessels in good standing. Stronger blood vessels tend to lead to healthy blood pressure readings.
Additionally, cranberry juice can also reduce blood pressure by widening blood vessels. The vitamin C content from this drink is also useful for keeping your blood pressure in check.
Water – Water is about the farthest thing you can get from an exotic drink, yet there is no denying its importance to the human body. You have probably heard much about the importance of water, especially the oft-repeated “eight glasses per day” guideline. What you probably didn’t realize is that water is a very effective weapon against high blood pressure. When the body runs low on water, its blood vessels begin to narrow, in turn causing the body’s blood pressure readings to spike.
Speaking of the “eight glasses” rule, an even better guideline for water consumption is to simply divide your bodyweight in half. For example, suppose you weight clocks in at 160 pounds. This means that you should aim for 80 ounces of water daily.