The ‘blue’ in blueberries can help lower blood pressure

image of a drink made with blueberry

A new study has found that eating just a single serving of blueberries every day for a month can lead to an improvement in blood vessel function and a decrease in systolic blood pressure in healthy people.

The study monitored chemicals in volunteers blood and urine as well as their blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery: a measure of how the artery widens when blood flow increases, which is considered a sensitive biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk.

The potential health benefits of blueberries may be due to vascular effects of anthocyanins which predominantly circulate in blood as phenolic acid metabolites. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue plants their rich coloring. The study analysed which role blueberry anthocyanins and circulating metabolites play in mediating improvements in vascular function.

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A recent study used a blueberry drink. The research study found:

  • The blood vessel function was effected within two hours after consumption of the blueberry drinks and were sustained for one month even after an overnight fast.
  • The test ran for a month and results indicated that blood pressure was reduced by 5mmHg. This reduction is similar to what is commonly seen in studies using blood pressure lowering medication.
  • The drinks containing purified anthocyanins led to improvements in endothelial function. Endothelial cells act as a barrier between the blood or lymph and the surrounding body tissue, as well as playing key roles in blood clotting and regulating blood pressure.
  • Neither the control drink, the control with fiber or the control with minerals and vitamins had a significant effect on FMD at two and six hours after consumption.

If the changes we saw in blood vessel function after eating blueberries every day could be sustained for a person’s whole life, it could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20%. These results are similar to those seen by many hypertension medications.

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