Blueberries help curb high blood pressure

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LONDON - Eating two handfuls of blueberries a week can slash the risk of developing high blood pressure, which leads to strokes and heart disease, a new research has found.

High blood pressure or hypertension affects at least 10 million people in Britain, reports

The latest findings show that bio-active compounds in blueberries - called anthocyanins - offer protection against hypertension.

Compared with people who did not eat blueberries, those eating at least one serving a week - the equivalent of a couple of handfuls - reduced their risk of developing the condition by 10 percent.

The superfood has already been found to fight hardening of the arteries, which can cause a heart attack or stroke, as well as helping to guard against diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Anthocyanins belong to the family of compounds called flavonoids and are also found in blackcurrants, raspberries, aubergines and blood orange juice.

The research, carried out by the University of East Anglia and Harvard University, is the first large study to investigate the effect of different flavonoids on hypertension.

The scientists studied 134,000 women and 47,000 men over a period of 14 years. None of the participants had hypertension at the start of the study.

Subjects were asked to complete health questionnaires every two years and their dietary intake was assessed every four years. Incidence of newly diagnosed hypertension during the 14-year period was then related to consumption of various flavonoids.

During the study 35,000 participants developed hypertension.

The dietary information identified tea as the main contributor of flavonoids, with apples, orange juice, blueberries, red wine and strawberries also providing important amounts.

Aedin Cassidy of the University of East Anglia said: “Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension.”

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