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Compound in Berries May Fight Hypertension

Harvard University researchers conducted a recent study showing that anthocyanins, flavonoid compounds found in berries, help protect the body from high blood pressure. Flavonoids are antioxidants that are found in plants and have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

The study will be published in the February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on 134,000 women and 47,000 men from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Study. While none of the participants had hypertension at the start of the study, 35,000 of the participants developed hypertension during the 14 year study period.

Dietary information was determined through health questionnaires that were completed every 2 years. At the end of the study period, the researchers compared consumption of various flavonoid rich foods and beverages such as tea, apples, orange juice, blueberries, red wine, and strawberries to the risk of hypertension.

They found that participants who consumed the highest amounts of anthocyanins were 8% less likely to develop hypertension than those who consumed the lowest amounts.

Additionally, the researchers found that blueberries had the strongest effect on hypertension risk, with participants who consumed at least one serving of blueberries a week 10% less likely to develop hypertension than those who ate no blueberries.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are all excellent sources of anthocyanins, and they are easy to incorporate into the diet via smoothies, pancakes and yogurts.

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