Staying hydrated matters when you have high blood pressure. But not all liquids are created equal when it comes to staying on top of your condition.
You probably know the importance of staying hydrated. About 60 percent of your body is water, and you need to replenish it every day to keep your body humming along.
Staying properly hydrated is especially important If you have high blood pressure. Falling short on fluids can cause sodium levels in your blood to rise. That, in turn, signals the release of the water-retaining hormone vasopressin, which causes your blood vessels to tighten and sends your blood pressure up, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
You should aim to drink one-third of your body weight in ounces of liquids, recommends Diana Kerwin, M.D. She’s a geriatric medicine physician with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. So, for example, if you’re 150 pounds, you should drink 50 ounces of fluids every day.
You have lots of choices when it comes to beverages. Some can bolster your efforts to manage your blood pressure – while others could make it harder. Here are four blood pressure-friendly options to reach for, plus one to limit.
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Drink This: Water
It’s a good idea to make plain old water your go-to. “Water is the best choice for fluid, because it’s free of calories, sugar, sodium, caffeine, and other additives,” says Nancy Mazarin, M.S., R.D.N., Long Island, New York–based nutrition expert who specializes helping older adults manage chronic health conditions.
That’s important, since some of those extras can make blood pressure management harder. Taking in excess calories or added sugar from drinks can lead to weight gain, which can send your blood pressure higher, Mazarin notes. Sodium and caffeine can have blood pressure-raising effects too.
Good to know: You can jazz up the flavor of your water for little to no calories or added sugar with crushed fresh fruit or herbs like berries, mango, or basil, recommends Darien Dempsey, R.D.N., L.D.N., a clinical dietitian with Temple Health in Philadelphia. Simply add your flavor-boosters to a pitcher of water, and let them infuse overnight.
Recommended reading: How to Stay Hydrated Before, During, and After a Workout
Drink This: Green Tea
Help yourself to a cup of the fresh, grassy sipper. Regularly drinking green tea has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) and total cholesterol, a review of 20 trials found.
“Green tea may contain antioxidants that could play a role in helping balance blood pressure,” Dempsey says. And like water, it’s naturally free of calories, sugar, and sodium.
Green tea does contain caffeine, which can temporarily raise blood pressure. But it has much less caffeine than black tea or coffee. Still, you might want to stick to just one cup if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
Good to know: You’ll reap the biggest benefits by sticking with plain tea. Stirring in milk, creamer, or sugar adds extra calories to your drink. That can make it harder to keep your weight in check over time, especially if you drink tea often, says Dempsey.
Recommended reading: 8 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Without Meds
Drink This: Low Fat Milk
It’s not just good for your bones — it may also be good for your blood pressure. A review of studies shows that regular milk intake is tied to healthier blood pressure levels. The perk could come from the minerals in milk, like calcium and phosphorus. These minerals may relax blood vessels to increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure, the review authors say.
Good to know: Choose low-fat milk instead of whole, Mazarin recommends. Full-fat milk is higher in saturated fat, which can raise your risk of heart disease. It’s also higher in calories, which can contribute to weight gain.
Drink This: No-Salt Added Tomato Juice
Some findings suggest that the savory sipper might be good for your blood pressure. In one small study, Japanese adults with untreated high blood pressure who consumed around 6 ounces of no-salt added tomato juice daily for 12 months saw a small drop in blood pressure.
Tomato juice is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may support blood vessel health, Dempsey notes.
Good to know: Most commercial tomato juices are high in added sodium, which can raise blood pressure. Always read the bottle’s label to make sure the tomato juice you’re buying is free of added salt.
Recommended reading: 6 Surprising Reasons Your Blood Pressure Spikes
Limit This: Alcohol
If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s best to do so in moderation. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure by temporarily restricting blood flow. And it may interact with some blood pressure medicines, adds Dempsey. It can also lead to weight gain, which can send your numbers up.
But you don’t have to abstain from alcohol completely. Some evidence shows that moderate drinking — less than one per day for women or less than two per day for men — can be beneficial to heart health, according to the American Heart Association.
“A glass of wine or beer at a social event may be OK. Just be sure to get your doctor’s permission first, to make sure alcohol won’t interact with your prescribed medications,” says Dempsey.
So let’s raise a glass (of water, preferably!) to lower blood pressure and better health!
See our sources:
The link between dehydration and blood pressure: Cleveland Clinic
Study on green tea and blood pressure: Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases
Study on tomato juice and blood pressure: Food & Science Nutrition
Alcohol and heart health: American Heart Association
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