Include Kiwi As Part of Diet to Lower Blood Pressure
Fresh kiwifruits are available year round in the US, but are often overlooked in favor of the more popular apples, bananas, and oranges. However, these little furry green fruits pack a big punch, and should be included as part of a healthy diet, particularly if you are trying to lower your blood pressure.
New research from Mette Svendsen of Oslo University Hospital accumulates data from 50 men and 68 women (average age 55) who were randomly assigned to eat either three kiwis or one apple a day for eight weeks, with no other dietary changes. All participants had mildly elevated blood pressure levels at the start of the study. The study volunteers then had blood pressure measured by 24-hour ambulatory monitoring, which allows blood pressure to be intermittently monitored over the course of a day, reducing the risk of inaccurate readings due to normal body fluctuations and “white coat hypertension.”
Those participants who included kiwi in their diets had systolic blood pressure levels that were 3.6 mm/Hg lower than those who ate apples instead. The systolic measure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) indicates the maximum pressure of force exerted on the blood vessels with each heart beat.
The researchers suspect the beneficial nutrient in kiwifruit is lutein, an antioxidant that is also found in other green produce such as dark leafy greens (kale, spinach), peas, romaine lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Lutein has been shown to help lower arterial plaque formation which leads to hypertension and heart disease.
Kiwis are also rich in Vitamin C – in fact, they contain more of the vitamin than an equivalent amount of orange. Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation which can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is also essential for the healthy functioning of the immune system.
The fruit is also a good source of dietary fiber. Increasing fiber in the diet has also been shown to be beneficial to lowering blood pressure.
The kiwifruit can be eaten either alone, after peeling with a paring knife, or combined in a salad with other fresh fruit such as pineapples, mangoes and strawberries. Add Kiwi to a chutney that can accompany a lean protein such as chicken or fish. The fruit can also be blended into a smoothie or a chilled soup.
While the kiwifruit is definitely a positive addition to a heart healthy diet, don’t count on it alone to be a magic bullet. Continue to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lower sodium intake. Exercise is also a crucial component toward blood pressure control.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
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