Can Sun Lower Your Blood Pressure?

 

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Is sunlight the new hypertension med? A new study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatologysuggests ultraviolet rays may lower your blood pressure.

Researchers in the United Kingdom had 24 volunteers sit below tanning lamps under two conditions—one time receiving UV rays and the other with the rays blocked—for 20 minutes. The UV group saw a blood pressure drop for 50 minutes afterward, while the group receiving just the heat saw no effect.

But don’t head for the sunshine just yet: The researchers claim that UV rays activate nitric oxide—a compound found to lower blood pressure. But guess what? Numerous foods that are polyphenol-rich (dark chocolate and tea, to name a few) produce an uptick in nitric oxide as well—and they don’t require you to torch your skin with UV rays.

While sunlight might seem like a great free solution to lowering blood pressure, unblocked UV rays could cause serious stress on your largest organ, skin. (Find out if you’re at risk and how to treat skin cancer here.)

Along with other natural pressure-release valves that don’t affect the rest of your body, munch on this: Men with metabolic syndrome (a set of conditions that can lead to heart disease) who ate powder equivalent to about 2 cups of grapes daily for a month lowered their systolic blood pressure by 6 points, according to a recent study from The Journal of Nutrition. The polyphenols in grapes seemingly help relax blood vessels and improve their function, say researchers from the University of Connecticut.

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