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Blueberries Lower Hypertension Risk by 10%

NORWICH, United Kingdom—Individuals who eat blueberries at least once a week have a 10-percent lower risk of developing hypertension than people who don’t eat them, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings suggest the flavonoid anthocyanin is the key to lowering high blood pressure.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and Harvard examined data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that included 47,000 adult males and 134,000 adult females over a 14-year period. None of the participants had hypertension at the beginning of the study. Participants completed health questionnaires every two years, and their dietary intake was assessed every four years. Incidence of newly diagnosed hypertension during the 14-year period was then related to consumption of various different flavonoids.

The findings revealed 35,000 participants developed hypertension. They found that tea was the main dietary contributor of flavonoids, followed by blueberries, orange juice, apples, red wine and strawberries. When the researchers focused on dietary intake of anthocyanins they found an 8-percent difference in hypertension risk among the highest and lowest consumers of the compound. Protection from hypertension was even greater among participants under age 60.

"Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension. Anthocyanins are readily incorporated into the diet as they are present in many commonly consumed foods. Blueberries were the richest source in this particular study as they are frequently consumed in the US. Other rich sources of anthocyanins in the United Kingdom include blackcurrants, blood oranges, aubergines and raspberries," the researchers said.

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