By Silas Allen
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Adding blueberries to one’s diet can help decrease certain cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, according to a study recently published by a group of Oklahoma researchers.
Arpita Basu, an OSU nutritional sciences professor, led the study. The group included researchers from OSU and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The study, titled “Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome,” was published in The Journal of Nutrition, a prominent academic journal, in July.
According to the study, blueberries rank among the top sources of dietary antioxidants, which help protect cells against damage caused by factors like obesity and diabetes. The study’s aim was to determine whether blueberries improved features of metabolic syndrome — that is, whether they helped lower certain risk factors, including increased blood pressure — in patients who were at risk of hypertension
The participants in the study were a group of 66 men and women with pre-hypertension, meaning their blood pressure was elevated.
“They were above normal, but not quite at the stage of being diagnosed with hypertension,” Basu said.
In the eight-week study, one group of patients drank a beverage made from two cups of blended frozen blueberries once a day, in addition to their normal diets. Another group of patients drank an equivalent amount of fluids.
After eight weeks, Basu said, researchers saw a seven- to eight-point drop in the systolic blood pressure of patients who had been drinking the blueberry beverage. Additionally, the patients received the benefits of antioxidants in the berries, as well, she said.
Basu said consuming one or two servings of blueberries per day can help both pre-hypertensive and hypertensive patients get control of their glucose levels.
Many patients rely too heavily on medication to help control blood glucose, Basu said, but in many cases, those patients aren’t able to control their glucose levels with medication alone. A diet that includes blueberries is a component of a healthier lifestyle that also includes diet and exercise, she said.
In the future, Basu said, researchers will look into the effects of a diet that includes blueberries on diabetic patients.