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Blueberries daily lowers high blood pressure risk 10 percent

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Harvard researchers and scientists from University of East Anglia say blueberries protect from high blood pressure.

The findings that the blueberries can stave off hypertension come from anthocyanins. In the study, researchers found eating one serving of the berries per day lowered their chances of developing high blood pressure 10 percent.

Anthocyanins are members of the flavonoid family that are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs. They are also present in high amounts in blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, aubergines, orange juice and blood oranges. The researchers studied blueberries because they are especially rich in the flavonoid that has antioxidant properties and commonly consumed in the U.S.

Together the researchers studied 134,000 women and 47,000 men from the Harvard established cohorts, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study over a 14 year span. The participant's health was assessed every 2 years via questionnaire and diet reviewed every 4 years.

The overall findings showed lower risk of high blood pressure from eating foods with anthocyanins, the bioactive component found in blueberries. Other foods considered high in flavonoids included tea - a main contributor - strawberries, apples, orange juice, blueberries, red wine, and strawberries.

During the study, 35,000 participants developed high blood pressure. None had hypertension at the study start.

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The findings showed those consuming the highest amounts of flavonoids that came mostly from strawberries and blueberries in the US had an 8 percent reduced risk of hypertension. Blueberries offered stronger protection than strawberries.

Professor Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition at UEA’s Medical School says, “Anthocyanins are readily incorporated into the diet as they are present in many commonly consumed foods. Blueberries were the richest source in this particular study as they are frequently consumed in the US. Other rich sources of anthocyanins in the UK include blackcurrants, blood oranges, aubergines and raspberries.”

The researches are taking things further to study individual foods containing anthocyanins. The intention is to discover optimal dosing of foods like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries that can guide public health recommendations.

The findings show berries, especially blueberries, and other fruits contain beneficial compounds that can keep high blood pressure at bay. Cost of hypertension in the US is currently estimated at $300 billion annually and affects 25 percent of the global population, according to background information from the authors.

University of East Anglia

Correction: In the study the benefits of blueberries for lowering blood pressure came from eating one serving weekly, versus daily.