Blueberries to Treat High Blood Pressure and Cholesterolby Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional
Blueberries are a fruit rich in many nutrients, such as vitamin C and dietary fiber. Blueberries also contain bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, stilbenes, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins. Due to these nutrients and compounds, blueberries are a valuable tool for reducing inflammation and blood pressure, and they also promote vascular health.
Blueberries to lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is often caused by endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is the inner layer of blood vessels. This endothelium plays a direct role in the dilation and constriction of blood vessels (aka vasocontriction). As blood vessels become constricted, blood pressure increases. Low nitric oxide levels contribute to vasocontriction.
An eight-week study found consumption of blueberries to increase nitric oxide levels and lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure on average six percent and four percent respectively. Another study found blueberry consumption to improve endothelial function after only six weeks.
Blueberries to lower cholesterol
Research has not consistently linked blueberry consumption to lower total cholesterol or LDL-cholesterol levels. However, the same eight-week study referenced above did observe lower oxidized-LDL levels in individuals consuming 50 grams freeze-dried (~350 grams fresh) blueberries daily.
Blueberries needed for results
One study compared the impact of freeze-dried blueberry powder used in a baked product to freeze-dried blueberry powder used in a drink. There was no difference in plasma polyphenol levels between the two forms indicating careful processing does not have a negative impact on the function of blueberries.
Now, I’ve covered studies that have linked blueberries to cardiovascular benefits. There are studies whose results indicate no benefit. The reasons for discrepancy between studies could be due to type of blueberry utilized, processing, study duration, study participant number, medications, techniques, or several other variabilities.
That being said, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Consuming blueberries is not the cure all to treating high blood pressure, but adding a cup of blueberries to your daily diet moves you in the right direction.
You may access my free ecourse 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure.