Consuming berries helps reduce high blood pressure

By Sheryl Kay • Published: April 6th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Spring is in the air … and if you launch into a little seasonal cleaning, you might want to go ahead and dig out the picnic basket. After all, we’re all getting ready to emerge from the winter’s cold and enjoy the warmer weather.

And while you’re packing that basket, make sure to include a nice selection of berries — not only because they’re juicy and sweet, but they just might help contribute to a healthier you.

In a recent study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigators found that eating blueberries and strawberries helps ward off hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, the cardiovascular disease effecting one in three Americans.

The massive study involved tracking the health and dietary consumption of one hundred-thirty-four-thousand women and forty-seven-thousand men over a fourteen-year time period, with specific attention given to the consumption of anthocyanins, [an-thə-ˈsī-ə-nəns] a compound found in high levels in berries. None of the participants had been diagnosed with hypertension at the onset of the investigation.

Every couple years the subjects reported on their overall health, and every four years they detailed their dietary intake. Those reports were then compared after the fourteen-year period, by which time thirty five-thousand of the subjects had been diagnosed with hypertension.

Analysis showed that participants consuming foods with the highest amounts of anthocyanins, particularly blueberries, were eight percent less likely to be diagnosed with hypertension than those eating the smallest amounts, and ten percent less likely than those eating no blueberries at all.

The next step? Investigators plan to test other sources of anthocyanins. In the meantime, when you pack up that picnic potato salad, don’t forget to toss some berries into the basket.