Stone fruit could lower blood pressure by 7% in ‘three hours’

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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Hypertensive effects on the vascular system become deadly when they cause a vein to burst, or blood clot to form. In the initial stages, the condition may produce chest pain, blurred vision and headaches, but the ill-defined characteristics of these symptoms make them hard to spot. Fortunately, stone fruits have been linked to healthy decreases in blood pressure due to their potassium. Cherries may be among the most beneficial, offering significant reductions in hypertension in the short space of three hours.

The discovery, made by researchers from Northumbria University’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Reachability, was deduced from a study on fifteen participants with early signs of hypertension.

At this stage, the top number of a blood pressure reading ranges between 130 and 139 mm Hg and the bottom number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.

The result, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that men with early hypertension saw a seven percent reduction after drinking the cherry extract, compared to drinking a fruit-flavoured cordial.

Blood pressure was measured both before and after the 60ml of Montmorency cherry concentration or cordial was consumed.

Participants given a cherry concentration saw a peak reduction of “7 mmHg” in their blood pressure within “three hours” of consuming the drink.

Based on previous research, a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg equates to a reduction in stroke risk of roughly 38 percent.

The Lead author of the study, Karen Keane, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, said: “The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes.

“Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of death from cardiovascular disease, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates.

“The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure.”

According to the findings, those with the highest measurements in blood pressure saw the greatest reductions.

The most significant improvements in systolic blood pressure occurred when the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic compounds reached their peak levels in the plasma.

This led researchers to understand that the above phytochemicals are potentially responsible for reductions in blood pressure.

Professor Glyn Howatson, research leader and Professor in Human and Applied Physiology, explained: “We believe that these benefits might be linked to the combined actions of some of the plant compounds within the Montmorency concentrate and the positive impact they exert on vascular function.”

Previous studies undertaken by the same team have revealed a wealth of other benefits linked to Montmorency cherry concentrate.

It may improve the quantity of sleep, and offer significant reductions in the painful symptoms of gout, as well as enhance the recovery of muscle function after intense exercise.

Many of these effects are attributable to the fruits’ anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative qualities, researchers explained.

Montmorency cherries, also known as tart, sour and dwarf cherries, have become increasingly popular as a health food in recent years due to their vast amounts of vitamins and minerals.

In fact, compared to sweet varieties, tart cherries contain five times more antioxidants and more than 20 times more vitamin A.

They are rarely consumed fresh, but are rather consumed dried, frozen or juiced, and are also available as a dietary supplement in concentrated form.

Studies suggest eating the fruit in its natural form, however, can help reap the most benefits from the fruit.

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