Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and menopausal women are at a much greater risk due to the tendency to develop arterial stiffness.
The aim of this study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2015), was to determine the cardiovascular benefits of blueberries beyond simple nutrition - even going so far as to reverse negative effects - especially in menopausal women.
At the beginning of the study, 48 postmenopausal women at high risk and with early-stage high blood pressure were randomly selected to receive 22 grams of either freeze-dried blueberry powder or control powder per day - about 1/8 cup - keeping in mind a realistic expectation of daily consumption outside of the study. Over the course of eight weeks, the women consumed the powder daily while maintaining their normal diet and exercise routines.
At the end of the study, the women who had taken the blueberry powder showed a 5.1% decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 6.3% decrease in diastolic blood pressure - the top and bottom numbers in a typical blood pressure reading. Additionally, there was a 68.5% increase in nitric oxide (NO), the molecule involved in the expansion of blood vessels, which could be a probable explanation for the drop in blood pressure. The control group, on the other hand, showed no changes from the beginning to the end of the study.
What Does This Mean?
Blueberry consumption, even in small amounts, seems to have a tremendously positive effect on hypertension and arterial stiffness, which in turn decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. For postmenopausal women and others alike, this is not only a natural solution to high blood pressure, but also a delicious one.
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, 2015