Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the today’s many prevalent health conditions. One out of every three adults has high blood pressure according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps even worse is the fact that only 52 percent of those adults are actively controlling this condition.
With these staggering statistics in mind, much research has been dedicated to treating the symptoms associated with high blood pressure. Luckily, a recent study has shown that simply eating a handful of blueberries every day can reduce blood pressure and promote a healthy heart.
The Power of the Berry
Over the course of eight weeks, 48 women with high blood pressure were given a daily cup of fresh blueberries. At the end of those eight weeks, the statistics showing that blueberries reduce blood pressure were surprising:
- Systolic pressure, or the pressure on arteries when blood is pushed through them, decreased by an average of 5.1 percent.
- Diastolic pressure, or the pressure on arteries between heartbeats, saw an average reduction of 6.3 percent.
- Arterial stiffness also decreased by an average of 6.5 percent.
- The molecule nitric oxide, which helps widen blood vessels, increased by 68.5 percent on average.
Although the statistics are encouraging, these health benefits only seem to be present in postmenopausal women. Interestingly enough, blood pressure levels vary according to one’s age and gender. Men between the ages of 20 and 64 are more likely than women to have high blood pressure, but women are more susceptible to this condition once they are 65 years or older.
The study was unable to explain why blueberries help combat the negative effects menopause has on women’s cardiovascular systems, but it did prove that blueberries reduce blood pressure, particularly in the pre-hypertension and first hypertension stages.
A Blueberry Diet
So now for the real question: have you had your daily dose of blueberries? Although this may seem a little unrealistic (after all, how many days can you eat blueberries before it gets too repetitive?), don’t be discouraged. Some other heart healthy foods include broccoli, garlic, green tea and oily fish.
Check out these simple yet delicious recipes to help incorporate blueberries into your regular diet:
Breakfast: Blueberry-Ricotta Pancakes
Get a healthy start to the day! Instead of maple syrup, try serving these pancakes with a blueberry sauce or honey. Tip: sprinkle the blueberries on the pancakes while they cook to ensure an even distribution.
Lunch: Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad
To get your midday energy boost, try this traditional meal with a slight twist. This is a great dish to make ahead of time – simply add the blueberries and dressing when you’re ready to enjoy!
Dinner: Turkey with Blueberry Pan Sauce
Blueberries are perfect for a variety of sweet and savory dishes, so why not add some healthy flavor to a classic turkey meal? Don’t panic: the blueberries are supposed to burst so the juices can be released, resulting in a thick and syrupy mixture. Simply serve the sauce with the turkey and your heart-healthy meal is ready.
Dessert: Blueberry Cupcakes
Who says healthy desserts can’t be delicious? This tasty and low-calorie treat includes a surprising ingredient: mashed potatoes. Tip: since the frosting stiffens quickly, be sure to spread it on the cupcakes as soon as the frosting is ready.
Try adding some of these recipes into your daily diet – your heart will thank you!