High blood pressure is a concern for many aging parents and other seniors. A new study indicates that, at least among older women, eating blueberries may help to lower high blood pressure or prevent normal blood pressure from rising.
A recent study published online on January 7, 2015 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sported the lengthy title "Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial." The study discussed in the article was conducted by researchers at Florida State University.
As the title states, this is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. What does that mean? Essentially, it assures people that efforts were made to not take any steps which could influence the results one way or another. Patients were put at random into either a study group or a control group, and the researchers had no way to know which patients were in which group.
For this study, 48 women were selected who either were prehypertensive (meaning, did not yet have high blood pressure) or who were hypertensive (did have high blood pressure). They were divided into two groups, one of which received 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder each day (the equivalent of about one cup of fresh blueberries) and one of which received 22 grams of a placebo powder.
The study was conducted over an 8 week period. At the end of this period, the placebo group registered no changes in measurements such as systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (used to measure stiffness of the arteries), while the group taking the blueberry powder registered significant changes in all three of these areas. In addition, while nitric oxide levels stayed the same in the control group, they increased in the blueberry powder group (nitric oxide is involved in the process by which blood vessels remain wide and better accessible for blood flow).
This study looked only at senior women, but aging parents of both sexes might want to consider adding blueberries to their diets. Blueberries have the greatest antioxidant capacity of any fresh fruit, are believed to help reduce tummy fat, and can aid in urinary tract and cardiovascular health. These are all areas of concern to aging parents, regardless of their gender.
As always, aging parents, spouses, and others should consult with their doctors before making significant changes to their diets.
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