Cherry juice may help to reduce high blood pressure
Drinking cherry juice reduces high blood pressure at a level comparable to that achieved by taking medication, a new study claims.
Researchers at the U.K.'s Northumbria University, found that men with early signs of hypertension - more commonly known as high blood pressure - saw a seven per cent reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit-flavoured cordial.
This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by high blood pressure medication.
For their study, researchers worked with 15 participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular related problems.
They were told that the study was to investigate the effect of a fruit juice on vascular function and were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of cordial.
Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours.
Accordingly, the researchers found that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the antioxidant-rich drink.
Past studies have shown that a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg over a sustained period has been associated with a 38 per cent reduced risk of stroke and 23 per cent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Lead study author Karen Keane said the discovery highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure.
"The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug," she explained, adding, "Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates."
High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg, researchers said.
In recent years, Northumbria University has undertaken a number of studies into the health benefits of tart Montmorency cherry concentrate. To date, they have found that the drinking the concentrate improves the quality and quantity of sleep, significantly reduces the symptoms associated with the painful condition of gout and enhances the recovery of muscle function after intense exercise, probably thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
The findings were first published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.