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Berry Antioxidant Intake May Help Blood Pressure Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, January 25, 2011, abstracted from “Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults” in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

High blood pressure is the most common primary diagnosis in the United States. (1) An estimated 50 million Americans and 1 billion individual worldwide are afflicted with the condition (2), which eventually leads to heart disease, especially in women. Compared to women with normal blood pressure, women with high blood pressure have a 400% higher risk of getting heart disease (3). Blood pressure costs our healthcare system an estimated $24 billion each year (4).

Now a new study (5) has suggested that anthocyanins, one of the class of antioxidants in berries (6), may help with blood pressure health. In the study, researchers analyzed information on 46,672 women from the Nurse’s Health Study I (7) and 23,043 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). Their flavonoid and subclass intakes were calculated from semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaires (8) collected every 4 years.

With an average of 14 years of follow-up, they found that those with the highest 20% intake of anthocyanin intake (16.2 mg per day in the Nurse’s study and 21.9 mg per day in the Health Professional study) had an 8% reduction in risk of high blood pressure, compared to those with the lowest 20% of intake (5.7 mg per day in the Nurse’s study and 6.8 mg per day in the Health Professionals study). When they looked at people age 60 and older, the risk reduction increased to 12%.

The researchers suggested that anthocyanins are able to have a blood pressure health effect through its ability to affect nitric oxide, known to help blood vessels relax (9). For the researchers, “Anthocyanins…may contribute to the prevention of hypertension” and that “these findings warrant further investigation, including intervention studies designed to test optimal doses of anthocyanin rich foods for the prevention of hypertension.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com


1. American Heart Association. 2002 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update. Dallas, Tex: American Heart Association; 2001
2. Cherry DK, Woodwell DA. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2000 summary. Adv Data. 2002;328:1-32
3. Mosca L, Manson JE, Sutherland SE, et al. Cardiovascular disease in women: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 1997;96:2468-2482
4. “Controlling High Blood Pressure” posted on www.ncqa.org/
5. Cassidy A. Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 93: 338-347
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