Consuming blueberries just once a week may protect against high blood pressure, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The active ingredient in blueberries that provides this protection is called anthocyanin, which is a part of a larger group of molecules called flavonoids. When participants in the study consumed blueberries at least once per week, they showed a 10 percent lower incidence of contracting hypertension.
Researchers analyzed results from approximately 134,000 women who participated in the Nurse's Health Studies I and II, and 23,400 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study for 14 years. During that time period, 29,018 cases of hypertension were reported in women and 5,629 cases were reported in men. Compared to those in the lowest quintile of anthocyanin consumption, those in the highest quintile had an 8 percent reduction in risk for high blood pressure. The results also showed a 12 percent lower risk for those under the age of 60.
These benefits may have their limits. The study discovered that for those over 60, the reduction in hypertension risk was less than 1 percent on average. Those at risk for the disease should consider life insurance policies to provide for their families in case they develop hypertension.