If you are a cherry-phile who can’t get enough of the fruit, we’ve got good news! That glass of cherry juice may be more than a refreshing drink – according to a recent study, it can also help keep your blood pressure under control.
Preliminary studies at Northumbria University were able to establish that tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate can reduce blood pressure in those exhibiting early signs of hypertension. The researchers also concluded that cherry juice can be as effective as conventional blood pressure medication.1
What’s more, the impact was found to be more pronounced in people with higher blood pressures – a heartening observation for many chronic blood pressure patients. Once its efficacy is firmly established, cherry juice can be a natural alternative for patients who are forced to increase hypertension medicine dosages every now and then to keep their pressure under control.
It also looks like doctors have been right all along about fruit power! The findings validate general medical recommendations on eating more fruits when you’re at risk for high blood pressure and resultant strokes. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is at the top of the list of non-communicable diseases that result in mortality. In America, about 47% of the adult population exhibits one of three symptoms that put them at risk for heart attacks and strokes.2 Natural alternatives are being extensively researched in this domain to help treat what is slowly turning into an epidemic. And Montmorency cherries seem poised to offer a solution.
Flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins, are believed to play a major role in this anti-hypertensive equation. Flavonoids are compounds responsible for the luscious, bright coloring of most fruits and vegetables. Of these, anthocyanins are in the limelight in the food and healthcare segments as natural food colors and as fighters of cardiovascular disease. They increase the level of good cholesterol in the body, one reason why eating fruits and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of CVD.3
Apart from these compounds, cherries also have phenolic acids, specifically protocatechuic acid and vanillic acid. Research shows that as the levels of these compounds in the bloodstream peak, blood pressure goes down – the impact is apparently at par with that of prescription medication.4
Whole Or Juice?
For best results, concentrated juice from Montmorency cherries must be consumed diluted with water twice a day. Why not eat the cherries directly, you ask? The juice concentrate available in stores is standardized, which is to say that every cupful of the cherry juice will have the same amount of active ingredients as another. Since it isn’t possible at this stage to say how many cherries must be consumed (whole or juiced) to gain the same amount of active ingredients every single day, diluted juice concentrate has been recommended.
So do all cherries have these benefits? So far, only tart Montmorency cherries have been proven to exhibit this property. The research is also still at a nascent stage and will need more extensive focus. So let’s wait and watch till studies on the subject grow broader and deeper.
|↑1||Keane, Karen M., Trevor W. George, Costas L. Constantinou, Meghan A. Brown, Tom Clifford, and Glyn Howatson. “Effects of Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus Cerasus L.) consumption on vascular function in men with early hypertension.”The American journal of clinical nutrition (2016): ajcn123869.|
|↑2||Heart Disease Facts, Center for Disease Control|
|↑3||Hassellund, S. S., A. Flaa, S. E. Kjeldsen, I. Seljeflot, A. Karlsen, I. Erlund, and M. Rostrup. “Effects of anthocyanins on cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation in pre-hypertensive men: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study.” Journal of human hypertension 27, no. 2 (2013): 100-106.|
|↑4||Keane, K. M., P. G. Bell, J. K. Lodge, C. C. Constantinou, S. E. Jenkinson, R. Bass, and G. Howatson. “Phytochemical uptake following human consumption of Montmorency tart cherry (L. Prunus cerasus) and influence of phenolic acids on vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro.” Eur J Nutr.[Epub ahead of print]. doi 10 (2015).|