Researchers at Harvard and the University of East Anglia (UK) found that eating blueberries could reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure by 10 percent. The research team studied 134,000 women and 23,000 men over a 14-year period. None of the study participants had high blood pressure at the beginning of the study, but while it was being conducted 35,000 of them developed it. The researchers found the study participants who were consuming the most anthocyanins, which are found in blueberries and strawberries had less chance of developing high blood pressure, but the stronger positive effect was for blueberries. An even stronger effect was found in those who were under 60 years of age and ate blueberries. This group had a 12 percent less chance of developing high blood pressure.
“Anthocyanins are readily incorporated into the diet as they are present in many commonly consumed foods. Blueberries were the richest source in this particular study as they are frequently consumed in the US. Other rich sources of anthocyanins in the UK include blackcurrants, blood oranges, aubergines and raspberries,” said lead author Prof. Aedin Cassidy. She also said anthocyanins can be found in tea, fruit juice, red wine, and dark chocolate. (Source: University of East Anglia)
Anthocyanins are plant-based flavonoids found in blueberries, raspberries (both red and black), blackberries, black currants, eggplant, red cabbage, muscadine grapes, chokeberries and palmberry acai. Typically the blue, purple and red fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins which are pigmented, naturally-occurring chemicals. So if you don’t like blueberries, there are plenty of other ways to add anthocyanins to your diet.
A researcher from Oregon State University has said of anthocyanins, “A number of studies have shown that mortality from CHD is inversely correlated with intake of flavonoids in the diet. Flavonoids may also help prevent strokes. While some flavonoids have been shown to inhibit tumor development, some experts have concluded that compounds other than flavonoids must be responsible for the anti-cancer effects of dietary fruits and vegetables.” (Source: Oregon State University)
Blueberries also contain the plant-based compounds pterostilbene, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, flavonols, and tannins which could be implicated in other positive health effects such as reducing tumors, protecting brain and heart cells, and anti-aging.
Some people eat blueberries with cream, or even ice cream, which may not be heart healthy as a long-term practice. If you prefer sweetening blueberries, they can be mixed into a fruit salad with bananas, strawberries or apples.
Image Credit: Bjorn Tennoe