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4 surprising ways to lower blood pressure

About 73 million adults have high blood pressure and about half of them are women. And only a fraction of people with high blood pressure are properly treating their condition. You probably already know that cutting out salt, losing weight and increasing your activity are key steps. Looking for a few more? Try these:

Ease into exercise. Moderate activity done at 10-minute intervals three times a day is just as helpful as full 30-minute sessions. Don’t try to fit in all of your recommended exercise into one or two days. If you have hypertension or heart problems, these sudden bursts of activity may jolt your system and can put your heart at risk.

Boost your potassium. Sodium can increase blood pressure, but increasing your potassium intake may lessen its effect. The best sources are fruits and vegetables. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much potassium you need.

Eat chocolate. Research suggests that flavonol, a substance found in cocoa beans and dark chocolate, may improve blood flow, which can help lower your blood pressure. Just be careful you don’t go overboard, as chocolate is high in calories.

Consider your water source. If you use a water softener, it could increase your water’s sodium level. Try switching to another water-purification method or buying demineralized water for drinking and cooking.