Just one cup of blueberries per day could be the key to reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness, both of which are associated with cardiovascular disease, according to researchers at Florida State University (FSU).

“Our findings suggest that regular consumption of blueberries could potentially delay the progression of prehypertension to hypertension, therefore reducing cardiovascular disease risk,” said lead researcher Sarah A. Johnson, assistant director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging (CAENRA) and postdoctoral fellow in FSU’s Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.

The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Over an eight-week period, 48 postmenopausal women with pre- and stage-1 hypertension were randomly assigned to receive either 22g of freeze-dried blueberry powder – the equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries – or 22g of a placebo powder. Participants, meanwhile, continued their normal diet and exercise routines.

At the beginning of the study, the team took the women’s blood pressure and measured their arterial stiffness and select blood biomarkers.

Healthier arteries

At the end of the eight weeks, participants receiving the blueberry powder on average had a 7 mmHg (5.1 percent) decrease in systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in the blood pressure reading that measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. They also saw a 5 mmHg (6.3 percent) reduction in diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number measuring the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Additionally, participants in the blueberry-treated group had an average reduction of 97 cm/second (6.5 percent) in arterial stiffness.

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