Just a cup of blueberries every day could help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, both of which are associated with heart disease.
â€œOur findings suggest that regular consumption of blueberries could potentially delay the progression of prehypertension to hypertension, therefore reducing cardiovascular disease risk,â€ said Sarah Johnson from Florida State University.
Over an eight-week period, 48 post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to receive either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder â€” the equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries â€” or 22 grams of a placebo powder.
Participants receiving the blueberry powder on average had a 5% decrease in systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in the blood pressure reading. They also saw a 6.3% reduction in diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number measuring the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Additionally, participants in the blueberry-treated group had an average reduction of 6.5% in arterial stiffness.
They also found that nitric oxide, a blood biomarker known to be involved in the widening of blood vessels, increased by 68.5%. This rise in nitric oxide helps explain the reductions in blood pressure.
â€œOur findings suggest that the addition of a single food, blueberries, to the diet may mitigate the negative cardiovascular effects that often occur as a result of menopause,â€ Johnson said.
The study appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.Â