Drinking Hibiscus Tea May Significantly Cut Blood Pressure
For as long as you can remember, your doctor has probably tested your blood pressure on every visit. This medical test has become so commonplace that many patients barely notice. If you struggle with high blood pressure, however, you know that lowering those numbers may be challenging, and risk factors like heredity are beyond your control. The fact is: high blood pressure affects most people as they age and may lead to serious complications, like heart attack and stroke. Thanks to new research, there is now a promising, natural way to reduce blood pressure.
How Tea Lowers Blood Pressure
Hibiscus is a flower native to warm, temperate regions. It is also one of the most common ingredients in herbal teas. To conduct their study, researchers at the USDA Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, in Boston, Massachusetts chose 65 subjects with mild hypertension or pre-hypertension. The participants were not on blood pressure-lowering medications and ranged in age from 30 to 70.
The 65 subjects were divided into two groups. The first group drank three 8-ounce cups of hibiscus tea each day. The tea was made with 1.25 g of dried hibiscus and steeped for six minutes. The second group received a placebo. After six weeks, significant changes were noted in the group who drank the hibiscus tea. The systolic blood pressure of the placebo group remained unchanged, but for those drinking the tea, it dropped an average of 7 mm Hg. However, tea drinkers whose systolic blood pressure was on the higher end of the range saw double the reduction-about 14 mm Hg. Reductions in diastolic and arterial pressure were also noted, but these were not significantly different compared to the placebo group.
You may be wondering what miracle ingredient in hibiscus tea could produce such promising results. Hibiscus is mostly composed of anthocyanins and other flavanoids, as well as polyphenolic compounds and phenolic acids. These substances act as antioxidants, fighting cell damage and removing harmful free radicals from the body. The compounds in hibiscus tea have also been shown to act as an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. A separate study showed that hibiscus is able to lower systolic blood pressure as effectively as Captopril®, an ACE inhibitor.
Hypertension results when your heart pumps more blood than your arteries may be able to handle. Arteries may narrow due to cholesterol or other blockages, or there may be excessive stress on the heart. Your age and family history are risk factors for hypertension that are beyond your control, but there are a number of other ways to fight this condition and keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
The fascinating study on hibiscus tea shows that drinking this beverage can help many people lower systolic blood pressure. Simply by drinking a manageable amount of tea, you have the power to improve your condition. No side effects have been found, even when much greater amounts of hibiscus are consumed. Furthermore, the blood pressure-cutting effects of tea are comparable to drugs made for this very same purpose.
Regular exercise and a lowfat diet not only reduce blood pressure, but fight a wide array of other diseases. You should make sure to get plenty of potassium and vitamin D in your diet and significantly reduce your consumption of salt. Do not smoke or drink alcohol excessively, as this can put stress on your heart. Adding hibiscus tea to your natural treatment plan will help you fight hypertension and enjoy a healthy life.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging
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