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blueberries in a bowlWell here’s more good news on the diet and high blood pressure front. Blueberries may help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure or lower your blood pressure if it’s already running high.

The studies suggesting this a rather preliminary but but the results are exciting nonetheless.

One of the studies looked at the diets of over 181,000 men and women for 14 years. The people participating in the study completed questionnaires about their diet every four years. No one had high blood pressure when the study began.

While the researchers made several observations, one of the most interesting to me is that people who had a least one serving of blueberries in the diet every week were 10% less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn’t eat any blueberries. While it’s not known for certain what’s so special about blueberries researchers suspect that’s beneficial effects may be related to its high level of compounds called anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are specific subtypes of the broader category of nutrients known as flavonoids. All of these are antioxidants, but anthocyanins are among the most powerful. And blueberries have especially high levels of anthocyanins.

In fact, blueberries are usually rated as having the highest concentration of antioxidants of any fruit or vegetable. Add in the facts that they have a low glycemic index and taste good and it seems to me that we all should try to include some in our diet regularly.

The amount of blueberries that seem to make a difference in the study came to about 1 cup per week. That’s not very much so it should be easy for just about anybody to do.

I usually buy blueberries fresh when they’re in season locally. They’re inexpensive then and I know that they are just picked. I put some in the freezer for using later. When they run out, I prefer to use frozen blueberries from supermarket. These generally will have higher nutritional value than blueberries than the “fresh” blueberries in the produce section that probably spent a few days in transit to the store, then another couple of days in the store before you bought them and finally a few days in your refrigerator before you eat them.

Frozen berries are cleaned and frozen almost immediately after picking so their nutrient levels are well preserved. I buy the biggest bag I can find and take out the amount I want as needed.

How used to blueberries makes a difference as well. Things like blueberry muffins and blueberry pies probably aren’t the way to go because of all the sugar and processed flour in them. The blueberries are good for you but the rest of the ingredients aren’t.

I most often have blueberries as part of my breakfast, either on top of a high fiber cereal or mixed in with some plain nonfat Greek yogurt that I sweetened with a little stevia. Blueberries are also a great addition to smoothies and protein shakes.

So you see you can improve on the general advice to eat lots of fruits and vegetables by making a point of including specific types in your diet. Blueberries are certainly ones to consider.

the article mentioned was published in the February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

 

Image courtesy of Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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