Fresh, ripe summer blueberries are some of nature’s tastiest gifts. But beyond that, they also pack quite a healthy punch, being low in calories but high in nutrients. Now, a new study found that their distinctive blue color can help to lower blood pressure.
Published in the Journal of Gerontology, the research found that eating 200 grams (roughly one cup) of blueberries every day for a month can lead to an improvement in blood vessel function and a decrease in blood pressure in people who were already relatively healthy.
Participants were randomly given either a drink containing the equivalent of 200 grams of blueberries or a control beverage. During the trial, researchers kept track of how participants’ arteries widened when blood flow increases, which is considered an indicator of cardiovascular disease risk.
The results were pretty quick: the effects on blood vessel function were observed just two hours after participants drank the blueberry drinks and lasted for one month — even after an overnight fast. Not only that, but over the course of the month-long study, those taking the blueberry drink saw their blood pressure reduced by 5mmHg, which is similar to the effects of using blood pressure medication.
In another part of the study, researchers compared the effects of the blueberry drink with those of purified anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical responsible for the blue, red, pink and purple color of some fruits and vegetables, like berries and red grapes. The drinks containing purified anthocyanins also resulted in improvements in regulating blood pressure.
“Although it is best to eat the whole blueberry to get the full benefit, our study finds that the majority of the effects can be explained by anthocyanins,” lead researcher Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London said in a statement. “If the changes we saw in blood vessel function after eating blueberries every day could be sustained for a person’s whole life, it could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20 percent.”
So the next time you’re strolling through the produce aisle, you may want to grab some of these tasty and healthy little fruits. They’re a great addition to any meal and come with some serious health benefits.