There is a food group with one thing in common that I am sure you may be interested in knowing more about. The fruits in this group contain powerful chemicals that can help lower your blood pressure and keep it low. This chemical, known as anthocyanin, is actually a pigmented flavonoid in the blue, purple, or red color.
These chemicals are found in high concentrations in the outer skins or within the seeds or pulp of fruits. The fruits that contain the highest amount of potent compounds are blueberries, blackberries, chokeberries, raspberries, grapes, cherries, cranberries, peaches, and pomegranate.
So what do these special chemicals do?
Well, they are strong antioxidant compounds that can affect the way your arteries function in several ways. Consuming these fruits can allow your body the opportunity to absorb free radicals, which can attack the inner linings of your arteries, causing damage from inflammation.
These free radicals can also cause oxidation of LDL cholesterol molecules, which can attach on to the inner linings of your arteries causing damage. Now, when this process occurs, the sensitive lining of your arteries called the endothelium can become very dysfunctional. This can lead to plaque formation, calcium deposits, and blood clotting, which can block the flow of blood to your heart and brain.
When the inner linings of your artery are damaged, the inner muscular wall will contract, causing your blood pressure to increase. Under normal circumstances, your body will normally secrete chemicals that will allow your arteries to relax so your blood pressure does not increase. However, during times of high inflammation and arterial dysfunction, this is not the case.
Enter anthocyanins and this issue is reversed because this chemical can increase the secretion of a substance called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a chemical that can reliably lower systolic blood pressure by causing relaxation of the smooth muscular layer of the artery. The anthocyanins contained within fruits like berries and pomegranates can also decrease arterial stiffness, which is commonly associated with high blood pressure.
Important research published in 2012 indicated that the increased intake of wine or berries per day was associated with lower values of central systolic blood pressure and pulse wave frequency (measurements used to assess arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis).
Other studies and reports have also assessed the effects of the consumption of pomegranates upon the development of cardiovascular disease and have reported similar effects upon the reduction of blood pressure.
I recommend consuming one to two servings of anthocyanin-rich fruit every day to keep your arteries clear and your blood pressure low.
Luna-Vázquez, F.J., et al., “Nutraceutical Value of Black Cherry Prunus serotina Ehrh. Fruits: Antioxidant and Antihypertensive Properties,” Molecules. November 25, 2013; 18(12): 14597-612.
Rodriguez-Mateos, A., et al., “Berry (Poly)phenols and Cardiovascular Health,” J Agric Food Chem. October 7, 2013.
Jennings, A., et al., “Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women,” Am J Clin Nutr. October 2012; 96(4): 781-8.
Aviram, M., et al., “Pomegranate for your cardiovascular health,” Rambam Maimonides Med J. April 30, 2013; 4(2): e0013.