August is upon us and it's a time of the year I love berry much! As summer begins its final chapter, it brings with it bittersweet hummings of back to school, but also the promise of one more month of fun -- and fresh fruit!
August is the perfect time of year to pick fresh blueberries -- the delicious berries that pack a powerful antioxidant punch. A study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that among more than 100 common foods, wild blueberries had the highest total antioxidant capacity. These beautiful berries have also been shown to improve metabolic function, memory, and mood. All these things considered, it's no wonder there is so much to love about these little berries but did you also know they are also very good for your love muscle, your heart?
As the hardest working muscle in your body, your heart has the mighty job of continuously keeping blood flowing through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels found throughout your body. Blood travels from your heart to your body, and then from your body back to your heart creating pressure on your veins and arteries, which is measured via blood pressure. Although blood pressure can vary slightly, and it tends to increase with age.
Blueberries in particular are showing berry exciting promise as research has linked the consumption of blueberries with a modest decrease in blood pressure in various groups of people with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension).
Currently, approximately 29 per cent of adult Americans have hypertension and another third of adults have pre-hypertension. Chronic hypertension is a risk factor for several ailments such as heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, glaucoma, and kidney failure. Two of the top five commonly prescribed drugs in the United States are for hypertension. With this number on the rise science is looking to both the pharmacy and the farm-acy for answers.
The colour pigments in blueberries are also very significant: the anthocyanins are what put the blue in blueberries, and they, along with other flavonoids that act as antioxidants, are being investigated as especially important because they increase the production of nitric oxide which acts as a vasodilator to lower blood pressure.
In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that consuming blueberries was associated with a drop in blood pressure and an increase in nitric oxide levels. In another study published in Circulation in 2013 found that eating three or more portions of blueberries per week had a 32 per cent lower risk of a heart attack compared with those who ate berries once a month or less. These findings are consistent with many other studies that have used blueberry consumption as a direct intervention, or have linked dietary patterns that had a high intake of blueberries and other berries to decreases in blood pressure.
"Unlike some supplements, blueberries are a widely available, healthy addition to any diet, so there are very few downsides to eating up," says Kamal Patel, the director of Examine.com. In addition, since current recommendations for pre-hypertension are dietary and lifestyle changes, blueberries may be the blue pill that everyone can take! Blueberries are also readily available, inexpensive, and delicious -- so what are you waiting for -- go find a thrill on blueberry hill!
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