A small new U.K. study has found that drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure, with results comparable to those achieved by medication.
The new research, which is the first to look at the effect of Montmorency cherry concentrate (Prunus cerasus) on blood pressure, comes from Northumbria University's Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation.
The researchers recruited 15 male participants who showed signs of early hypertension (high blood pressure) with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg. Readings at this level and above indicate a higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular related problems, with high blood pressure the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Some of the participants were then given 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate while others received 60ml of a shop-bought fruit-flavored cordial.
Blood pressure readings and blood samples were taken before the juice was consumed and at regular intervals after consumption.
The results showed that those who had taken the cherry concentrate benefited from a drop in blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink when compared to drinking the fruit-flavored cordial, with the results comparable to those achieved by just a single anti-hypertensive drug.
The team also found that it was the participants with the highest blood pressure levels that benefited the most.
With even just a small reduction in blood pressure having a large impact on mortality rates from cardiovascular disease, the researchers believe the results could be significant in helping to lower and manage high blood pressure and prevent further health problems. Previous research has also shown reducing blood pressure by just 5-6 mmHg over a long-term period can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 38 per cent and coronary heart disease 23 per cent.
The researchers believe that it could be the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic compounds found in the concentrate which are responsible for the reduction in blood pressure, with participants showing the greatest reduction in blood pressure when these compounds reached their highest levels in the plasma.
Northumbria University has also found many other health benefits of Montmorency cherry concentrate, with the University's previous studies showing that it can improves both the quality and quantity of sleep, reduce symptoms of gout, and thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, help to muscle recovery after exercise.
The findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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