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Can Tart Cherry Juice Help Beat Early Hypertension?

Move over orange juice, tart cherry juice deserves a pour. Researchers recently found that drinking tart cherry juice could have an immediate blood pressure-reducing effect in people with early hypertension. The double-blind study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and included 15 men with early hypertension (systolic blood pressure of at least 130 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure of at least 80 mm Hg, or both). The men were divided into two groups and received either a single 60 mL dose of concentrated Montmorency tart cherry juice (the equivalent of about 180 cherries) diluted in water or a fruit-flavored cordial (the placebo). Researchers measured the men’s blood pressure and checked their arterial stiffness and reactivity (tendency to constrict) before they drank the juice and five times over the eight hours following their juice intake. They also monitored levels of tart cherry polyphenols, which are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, in the men’s blood. Two weeks later, the groups were switched (men who drank the tart cherry juice now drank the placebo and vice versa) and the one-day trial was repeated. After researchers analyzed the data, they found that:

  • Systolic blood pressure was significantly lower for three hours after taking the tart cherry juice compared with the placebo.
  • The greatest reduction in systolic blood pressure (an average of 7 mm Hg) was measured two hours after drinking the tart cherry juice, compared with the placebo group.
  • The lower blood pressure readings occurred when levels of tart cherry polyphenols in the men’s blood were increased.

This study provides further evidence that consuming foods rich in polyphenols may be beneficial for vascular health, and that tart cherries may be a great go-to source for these compounds. To put this study’s findings into perspective, a 7 mm Hg decrease in blood pressure is comparable to the results found in people with mild hypertension taking a single anti-hypertensive drug. And previous research has shown that even small decreases in blood pressure may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you have hypertension and you’d like to give tart cherry juice a try, talk with your healthcare practitioner to see if it’s right for you.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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