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Eating Blueberries May Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading killers in the United States. A recent study suggests that consuming the equivalent of one cup of blueberries per day may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, two risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Participants in the study included 48 post-menopausal women with pre- and stage-1 hypertension. Over the course of eight weeks they consumed either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (which is equivalent to approximately one cup of fresh blueberries) or 22 grams of a placebo powder. All of the women were instructed to follow their usual diet and exercise.

The researchers measured blood pressure, arterial stiffness and specific blood biomarkers at the onset and conclusion of the study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an average reduction of 7mmHg or 5.1% in the systolic blood pressure of the blueberry group, as well as a 5mmHg or 6.3% reduction in diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the heart when it is beating and is the top number on a blood pressure reading. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the heart when it is resting and is the bottom number.

The researchers also noted a 97 cm/second or 6.5% reduction in arterial stiffness in the blueberry group. Finally, the researchers found that nitric oxide (a blood biomarker associated with the widening of blood vessels) was increased by 68.5%. The researchers say this rise in nitric oxide helps explain the reductions in blood pressure.

Researchers from Florida State University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 7, 2015, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Previous studies have found associations between eating blueberries and a lower risk of dementia, aid in weight management, improved blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. They are easy to add to your diet and go well with pancakes, salads and smoothies.

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