Blue and Strawberries may Prevent Hypertension

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Good news for fruits and vegetables lovers.  Another study demonstrated that intake fruits and vegetables that are rich in anthocyanins—such as blueberries, strawberries, and blood oranges—might help prevent the development of hypertension. 

Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that are found in fruits and vegetables.  They belong to a class of molecules called flavonoids.  Flavonoids are also found in tea, red wine, and dark chocolate.  

In the past, flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but there are no studies to date to show flavonoids can prevent hypertension. 

The study reported here came from the US Nurses Health Studies (NHS I and II), which examined the effect of dietary intake of different flavonoids on the development of hypertension.  The study, which lasted 14 years, involved 134,000 women and 23,000 men. 

Based on the history of food intake, investigators found that participants in the highest quintile of anthocyanin intake (around one serving per week) had an 8% relative reduction in risk of hypertension compared with those in the lowest quintile of intake.  In this study, most of the anthocyanin came from blueberries and strawberries. 

The researchers also found the effects of anthocyanin intake to be greatest in those under the age of 60 (i.e. a 12% reduction in risk of hypertension in the highest versus lowest quintile).  The lack of effects of anthocyanin in the elderly might be due to fact that cumulative damage of vasculature in the elderly exceeded the beneficial effects of flavonoids. 

Source: Novermber 24, 2010, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

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