Nutrients improve blood pressure and artery flexibility

Amino acids

Doctors measured seven heart- healthy plant-based amino acids in the diets of 1,898 adult female twins and analyzed blood pressure and artery flexibility. Women who got the most arginine, cysteine, glycine, histidine, leucine, tyrosine, and glutamic acid had lower blood pressure in the main central artery and in the extremities. Women who got the most of the last three of these amino acids had more flexible arteries compared to women who got fewer amino acids in the diet.

The benefits remained even after doctors adjusted for lifestyle factors, medications, and other nutrients the women consumed. Discussing the findings, doctors said the improvements in artery flexibility were similar to those of someone who quits smoking, or who begins taking omega-3 fatty acids, or the difference between those with high blood pressure or cholesterol and those with healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Blueberries

Postmenopausal women often develop high blood pressure and arterial stiffness. In this study, 48 postmenopausal women with pre- or stage-1 hypertension took 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder per day or a placebo.

After eight weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, women who took the blueberry powder saw systolic and diastolic blood ressure decrease by 5.1 and 6.3 percent, respectively. Artery stiffness declined by 6.5 percent. Nitric oxide, a molecular compound that helps relax the blood vessels, increased by 68.5 percent in the blueberry group, which doctors believe helps explain the blood pressure benefits with blueberries.

Earlier studies had found benefits in taking blueberry powder, but with doses that equaled as much as 11 cups of fresh berries per day. This study dose equaled just one cup of fresh blueberries per day.

Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; July, 2015, Published Online
Natural Insights for Well Being November 2015

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