Drinking cherry juice can reduce blood pressure as much as prescription medications. New research from British Northumbria University found that men who drank tart Montmorency cherry juice reduced their blood pressure by 7 percent — a reduction comparable to the level achieved by drugs.
Study participants had early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg and were given either 60 ml (about 2 ounces) of cherry juice or a placebo cherry-flavored drink. Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry drinks were consumed and at regular intervals for the following eight hours.
The participants who drank the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink. Those participants with blood pressure levels at the higher end of the scale saw the most benefit.
Researchers believe that the pressure-lowering benefit comes from the high amounts of phenolic acids — a powerful antioxidant — contained in the cherry juice.
"This is the first study to investigate the acute effects of Montmorency tart cherry consumption on blood pressure, arterial stiffness and microvascular vasodilation in males with early hypertension," said lead author Karen Keane. "This exciting set of data complements a growing body of research to show that eating the right sorts of foods can provide potential health benefits.
"We believe these benefits might be linked to the combined actions of some of the plant compounds within the Montmorency concentrate and the positive impact they exert on vascular function," she said.
Previous studies have found that reducing blood pressure 5 to 6 mmHg lowers the risk of stroke by 38 percent and the risk of coronary artery disease by 23 percent.
Coronary artery disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, and more than 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year.
An earlier study at Northumbria University, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, revealed that when adults drank cherry juice, they slept an average of 39 minutes longer. Previous studies found that cherry juice significantly reduces painful symptoms associated with gout, and aids the recovery of muscles following intense exercise.
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