How blueberries keep your blood pressure (and more!) in check

During this time, it’s likely that many of us are having what researchers call a severe stress reaction. It can happen when we experience a huge trauma, like the loss of a loved one, or a natural disaster.

Or, a pandemic.

One Swedish study found that the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack was a whopping 64 percent higher among people who suffered a severe stress reaction or other stress disorder.

And let’s face it, even if you haven’t lost anyone close to you in this pandemic, the stress of watching the news and wondering what the future holds can wreak havoc with your blood pressure and your heart health.

One of the tried and true ways to help your body cope with stress is by adjusting your diet. The nutrients we feed our body can determine how our body handles stress.

If you’re looking for a way to help keep your blood pressure under control, without turning to medications that may do more harm than good, adding a handful of the little blue fruit that’s already considered a “superfood” may be just the ticket.

Blueberries lower blood pressure

A team of researchers from King’s College in London found that drinking 200g (almost a cup) of blueberries every day for four weeks led to decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading, which shows the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts).

Blueberries also improved blood vessel function in the 40 healthy volunteers who took part in the study.

During the monthlong study, half the volunteers drank a blueberry beverage. All volunteers were monitored for blood pressure, as well as for flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery (how much the artery widens as blood flow increases). FMD is considered an accurate measure of cardiovascular disease risk.

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The results?

Drinking blueberries daily lowered blood pressure by 5mm Hg, comparable to what’s expected from using blood pressure medication.

The researchers followed up with another study, where they tested the results of a non-blueberry drink high in anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give blueberries their color.

They found that the anthocyanin drink helped with blood clotting and blood pressure regulation, but they still believed that the real benefits come from the blueberry itself.

Other reasons to eat more blueberries right now

Not only will a handful of blueberries in your cereal or yogurt help you avoid high blood pressure, this superfood still protects your health in other ways:

Blueberries fuel your brain. After 12 weeks of drinking concentrated blueberry juice daily, a group of adults ages 65-77 showed increased blood flow to the brain, and significant increases in brain activity, including improvements in short-term (working) memory.

Blueberries pump up your immune system. Research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University demonstrated that pterostilbene, a natural compound found in blueberries, works together with vitamin D to increase the expression of our natural disease-fighting genes.

Blueberries prevent atherosclerosis. Animal studies have shown that blueberries can help prevent the growth of plaques and lesions in the arteries, thus preventing the development of hardened arteries and stroke.

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Sources:

  1. Blueberries and Blood Pressure — News-Medical.Net
  2. Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their AnthocyaninsAdvances in Nutrition
  3. Blueberry concentrate improves brain function in older people — University of Exeter
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.