Study Looks at How Blueberries Help Control Blood Pressure in Women

By Rosner, Cara | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), May 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Study Looks at How Blueberries Help Control Blood Pressure in Women


Rosner, Cara, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


Women trying to combat high blood pressure may have a new weapon in their arsenal: blueberries.

Daily consumption of blueberries has been shown to lower blood pressure and lessen arterial stiffness in post-menopausal women, according to a new clinical trial.

The trial, which took place in Florida and recently was published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, examined the effects the fruit had on 48 women.

Post-menopausal women provided a meaningful test group, according to study authors, because they typically are more likely than others to have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and develop arterial stiffness, which increases their risk for cardiovascular disease.

Over the course of eight weeks, the women were randomly assigned to take either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder, which equals about a cup of fresh blueberries, or 22 grams of a placebo powder.

At the end of the study, those who consumed the blueberry powder had "significantly lower" systolic and diastolic blood pressure -- the top and bottom numbers of a blood pressure reading -- than when they began. The control group that consumed the placebo saw no change, according to the study.

Those who consumed the powdered blueberries also had lower brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness, at the end of the eight weeks.

Researchers believe the improvements may have been due in part to increased nitric oxide production among those who ate the berry powder, according to the study, which was led by Sarah Johnson, postdoctoral researcher at Florida State University.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps cells communicate with each other and has cardiovascular benefits.

"Nitric oxide is incredibly important," said Dr. Joseph Feuerstein, director of integrative medicine at Stamford Hospital and assistant clinical professor at Columbia University in New York. It is produced by the body and dilates and widens blood vessels, making it an important component of cardiovascular health, he said.

The increase in nitric oxide found in the study reduces participants' risk for ailments such as stroke and heart attack, he said. …

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