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Here’s a new reason to eat more oily fish, fruits, and vegetables to keep your heart healthy: Having a healthier heart may help you look younger. When researchers showed people photos of women about 60 years of age, they thought the women with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease looked two years younger compared to those with a higher risk.

The key to achieving a youthful appearance may be tied to your systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number). Researchers think that when your blood pressure is too high, it may impede your skin’s microvascular system, responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen.

When those beneficial elements aren’t delivered optimally, it may strain your skin and possibly diminish that youthful glow. High blood pressure may also be linked to women who looked older because it’s related to other lifestyle factors like stress and lack of exercise, which can be detrimental for your skin.

If you have high blood pressure (defined as any number higher than 140/90), don’t despair. There are several things you can do to help lower your numbers. Try eating more potassium-packed fruits and vegetables and healthy fats like nuts and avocados. Or try these other foods to lower blood pressure.

Maybe you already know that what you put in your body can affect how you looks on the outside, but the motivation to knock a couple of years off your age may help you pay attention to keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range.

Need even more motivation? Other studies have found that women who led healthier lifestyles — less smoking and sunbathing and better healthy-eating habits — had skin that looked younger.

(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)

(c) 2015 EATING WELL, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Photo: Sammy Jay Jay via Flickr

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