Ever wonder if there really is power in the foods you eat to help you fight a condition such as high blood pressure? The American Heart Association (AHA) featured three studies at the association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions that highlight foods that can make a big difference in your blood pressure.
One study found that drinking low-calorie cranberry juice on a regular basis may help lower blood pressure. In this study, researchers divided participants into two groups, both of which consumed a controlled diet. The first group drank low-calorie cranberry juice for eight weeks as part of that diet while the other group consumed a placebo drink during that time period. The researchers assessed the participants’ blood pressure at the beginning of the study as well as at the mid-point and the end of the eight-week period. They found that participants who drank the low-calorie cranberry juice saw their blood pressure drop from an average of 121/73 to 118/70 during that period, while the group who consumed the placebo drink had no change in blood pressure.
The second study found that yogurt also may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. In this 15-year study, researchers followed more than 2,000 volunteers who who didn’t have high blood pressure when the study started. The participants filled out questionnaires three times during the study period in which they detailed their yogurt consumption. The researchers analyzed this information and found that the participants who consumed at least two percent of their daily calories from yogurt (approximately one six-ounce cup of low-fat yogurt every three days) were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure. In addition, these participants’ systolic blood pressure – which is the top number in a blood pressure reading, measuring the force of blood against the walls of arteries when the heart is beating – increased less than that of participants who didn’t consume the equivalent amount of yogurt.
The third study analyzed the effect that cooking with sesame and rice brain oil has on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. “The researchers found cooking with a combination of these oils in a variety of ways worked nearly as well as a commonly prescribed high blood pressure medication, and that the use of the oil blend with medication yielded even more impressive results,” the AHA press release states. This study involved 300 people who had mild to moderately high blood pressure. These participants were assigned to three groups. The first group was treated with a calcium-channel blocker (nifedipine), which is a medication commonly used to control blood pressure. The second group was assigned to use the oil blend in their meals. The third group received both the medication and the oil blend. At the end of the study, the researchers found that all three groups experienced a decline in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings after 60 days. (Diastolic blood pressure is bottom number in a blood pressure reading. It measures the force of blood against artery walls when the heart is resting between beats.) Those who only used the oil blend saw their systolic blood pressure drop 14 points and their diastolic blood pressure drop 11 points. Those who took the medicine experienced a 16 point drop in systolic blood pressure and a 12 percent drop for diastolic blood pressure. Participants who used both the oil blend and the medication saw the biggest drops. Their systolic blood pressure dropped 36 points while their diastolic blood pressure decreased by 24 points.