Older women see blood pressure drop from eating
Artery stiffness and blood pressure reduced more than
14, 2015 – Older women should definitely consider consuming a cup of
blueberries a day, according to a Florida State study that finds this
will lower blood pressure and reduce stiffness of arteries – both linked
to cardiovascular disease.
“Our findings suggest that regular consumption of
blueberries could potentially delay the progression of prehypertension
to hypertension, therefore reducing cardiovascular disease risk,” said
Sarah A. Johnson, assistant director of the Center for Advancing
Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging (CAENRA) and postdoctoral
fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at
Florida State University.
Johnson and a team of FSU nutrition and exercise
scientists are the authors of a new paper, “Daily blueberry consumption
improves blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women
with pre- and stage 1-hypertension.”
The report on their work is found in the Journal
of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Johnson said she is interested in looking at how
functional foods - foods that have a positive impact on health beyond
basic nutrition - can prevent and reverse negative health outcomes,
particularly for postmenopausal women.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of
death in the United States,” she said. “Once women go through menopause,
this puts them at an even greater risk for it. Our 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
Over an eight-week period, 48 postmenopausal women
with pre- and stage-1 hypertension were randomly assigned to receive
either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder — the equivalent to one
cup of fresh blueberries — or 22 grams of a placebo powder.
Participants, meanwhile, continued their normal diet and exercise
At the beginning of the study, the team took
participants’ blood pressure and measured their arterial stiffness and
select blood biomarkers.
At the end of the eight weeks, participants
receiving the blueberry powder on average had a 7 mmHg (5.1 percent)
decrease in systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in the
blood pressure reading that measures the pressure in the arteries when
the heart beats.
They also saw a 5 mmHg (6.3 percent) 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 97 cm/second (6.5 percent) in arterial
They also found that nitric oxide, a blood
biomarker known to be involved in the widening of blood vessels,
increased by 68.5 percent. That is important, Johnson said, because
arterial stiffness and the narrowing of blood vessels are both a part of
hypertension. This rise in nitric oxide helps explain the reductions in
Previous studies on blueberries have shown positive
effects on cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, but
they all included large amounts of blueberry powder consumption,
anywhere from 50 grams to 250 grams. In the case of 250 grams, that
would translate to more than 11 cups of fresh blueberries, which may not
be realistic for people to consume on a regular basis.
Johnson said that future studies will consider
other dosages of blueberries, longer intervention periods and other
Johnson is joined on the paper by Department of
Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences professors Bahram H. Arjmandi and
Arturo Figueroa; Campus Recreation Wellness Coordinator Lauren T.
Ormsbee; Oklahoma State University Department of Statistics Department
Head and Professor Mark E. Payton; and San Diego State University School
of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences Professor Shirin Hooshmand. Florida
State University graduate students Negin Navaei, Alexei Wong, Roy Kalfon,
Rafaela G. Feresin and Marcus L. Elam also contributed.
The research was funded by the U.S. Highbush
Blueberry Council (USHBC).
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