How blueberries help to lower blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a growing problem in the United States. Currently, 1 in 3 Americans suffer from this condition, but new research suggests that eating blueberries may improve blood pressure in postmenopausal women suffering from hypertension.
In the study, a group of postmenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 65 consumed freeze-dried blueberry powder every day for eight weeks. The study found significant improvement in blood pressure and blood vessel flexibility among the group.
While menopause does not cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, certain risk factors, such as vessel stiffness, tend to increase around the time of menopause.
Dr. Tiffany Groen, a family medicine physician on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., says that a decline in estrogen might be a significant factor in helping with blood pressure.
“Estrogen seems to have a positive effect on the artery wall, keeping blood vessels flexible,” Dr. Groen says, who also specializes in preventive medicine. “Lowering estrogen after menopause can decrease this flexibility, increasing pressure in the vessels because of restricted flow.”
While the women in the study improved, study leaders stress that the results do not mean that blueberries or blueberry powder should substitute for medication.
The changes in blood pressure were small and the study was short so researchers suggest that more research needs to be done.
Dr. Groen stresses that “knowing your blood pressure is important for everyone, but especially for those with other heart disease risk factors.”
Some of the biggest risk factors are age, heredity, gender (men more than women), being overweight, smoking, not exercising, and having high cholesterol or diabetes.
“We know there are a lot of factors that increase a patient’s risk of developing high blood pressure, including physical activity, weight, diet and more,” Dr. Groen says. “Patients should certainly be doing all they can to decrease their risk, and this study suggests that postmenopausal women have another tasty weapon against hypertension.”
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