Afterward, the researchers found that flow-mediated dilation improved by about 2% within two hours of consuming the blueberry drink and the effect was sustained after one month of daily consumption. Also, systolic blood pressure fell by an average of 5 millimeters of mercury.
Potentially reduces blood pressure
“Eating blueberries helps reduce blood pressure in people who have metabolic syndrome because it helps the body produce more nitric oxide, which relaxes your blood vessels,” Zumpano notes.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as a silent killer. This is because it often has no apparent symptoms until its later stages. In fact, hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults in the U.S, and many may not know until it is too late. High blood pressure can take its toll on the cardiovascular system over time, which means that those with hypertension are more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
To manage high blood pressure, it is important not to smoke, to maintain a healthy weight and participate in regular exercise. However, there are other ways to lower cardiovascular risk, and some may be just as subtle as hypertension itself.
Study Shows Blueberries Can Reduce Hypertension
It is long known that blueberries are full of healthy antioxidants. However, a new study has revealed that the phytochemicals that give blueberries their beautiful blue color, known as anthocyanins, can also decrease one’s cardiovascular risk by 20 percent.
The two-part study focused on 40 individuals with normal blood pressure levels and “perfect health.” To correctly test the power of blueberries, they split the group into two. One half was given a drink with 200 grams of blueberries, while the other half received a control drink. Researchers tracked the participants’ blood pressure over time and noticed a significant drop in blood pressure for the group consuming a daily dose of blueberries.
For the second part of the study, researchers focused on confirming their hypothesis, which credited the anthocyanins in the blueberries for causing the drop in blood pressure. To do so, they gave one group of participants a beverage containing pure anthocyanins, while the other group was given a mix of vitamins and minerals to mimic those in blueberries without the addition of anthocyanins.
The results of the study were overwhelmingly positive. The group that consumed 200 grams of blueberries a day for 40 days saw their blood pressure drop by five millimeters. However, the researchers saw results far before 40 days. Only two hours after consuming the blueberries, the researchers could see positive health benefits in the patients.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
The effects of blueberries on hypertension are positive and encouraging. In fact, the study showed that a 200-gram dose of blueberries had the same effect of most hypertension medications. This does not even bring into account the other amazing health benefits of blueberries, including their ability to protect against aging, cancer and diabetes. They are even proven to have a positive effect on individuals’ memories.
While the benefits of blueberries can quickly add up, they should not replace a hypertension medication you are currently taking. Quitting a heart medication abruptly can have a negative effect on one’s health and even cause a heart condition to worsen. That is why you should always speak with your cardiologist before changing doses or stopping a medication.