With Valentine’s Day today, I’m thinking about our hearts. And flowers.
But mostly our hearts. Always an advocate of the natural over the pharmaceutical when reasonable, I like to see research supporting natural solutions to our greatest health concerns.
So I was happy to see this new research support an easy way to significantly decrease blood pressure with one little, yummy food- cherries.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at whether tart cherry juice could help younger men with high blood pressure (higher than 130/80 mm Hg).
The study was a randomized, controlled study- the gold standard. Fifteen men took 2 oz of tart cherry juice a day, and researchers evaluated the effects.
It was impressive, guys. I had to share!
Systolic blood pressure (the top number) decreased 7 points +/- 3 mm Hg in the 1 to 3 hours after drinking the juice!
Which is incredible, especially because a 20-point increase in systolic blood pressure is associated with double the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Yikes. Lowering it naturally with just 2 oz of fruit juice? Not bad.
In the study, the drop in blood pressure corresponded with an increase in antioxidant content in the blood. Antioxidants in plants are also called polyphenols, and we think they are one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables are so heart healthy.
Polyphenols seem to increase nitric oxide (NO) which helps relax and widen our blood vessel walls. They also reduce oxidation of blood fats which means less free radical damage to our cells.
The cherry antioxidants also can inhibit inflammatory pathways which may reduce the risk of plaque development in our arteries. Less plaque, less heart attacks.
Very good reason to put a cherry on top.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovies!