Eat fewer: Comfort foods
Winter has just arrived but chances are you’re still dealing with some last winter’s love handles. Dr. Ross Fletcher, chief of staff at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., led a five-year study that determined blood pressure is more difficult to control in winter than in summer. (Study subjects tended to gain weight during the colder months, possibly due to richer foods and lack of exercise.) Fight back by restarting your workout routine and watching meal choices.
Retrain your taste buds
Participants in the groundbreaking Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
Sodium trial—featuring a diet high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy—saw their blood pressure decrease significantly.
Drink fewer: Soft drinks
One soft drink a day—even the sugar-free kind—jacked up blood pressure risk by 18 percent, according to a 2007 study published in Circulation. Its author, Harvard Medical School instructor Ravi Dhingra, says the high caramel content in some soft drinks may promote blood vessel inflammation, which in turn increases blood pressure.
Drink fewer: Energy drinks
High caffeine and taurine levels in energy drinks are known to elevate heart rate. Researchers behind a small U.S. study recently suggested that people with hypertension or heart disease should not imbibe the stimulants, after witnessing blood pressure spikes in a small group of healthy volunteers.