Montmorency cherry juice can lower blood pressure by a similar amount to medication, research finds.
The study examined the effects of Montmorency tart cherry juice on vascular function in hypertensive men.
These participants consumed 60 ml of Montmorency tart cherry juice diluted with 100ml of water.
The subjects’ blood pressure was reduced by 7 mmHg just three hours after drinking the juice.
High blood pressure is a serious health concern as if it is not treated can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
Currently, about 1 out of every 3 American adults and more than 1 in 4 adults in England suffer from hypertension.
A normal blood pressure for an adult is considered to be 120 mmHg (systolic) over 80 mmHg (diastolic).
Several studies have shown a 5 mmHg to 6 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure can lower the risk of heart disease by 23 percent and stroke by 38 percent.
Systolic blood pressure is the top number of the blood pressure readings and diastolic blood pressure is the second number.
Systolic blood pressure is the more important of these two as it is an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
Montmorency tart cherry is a type of sour cherry which is rich in phenolic acids (a type of polyphenol).
The phenolic acids show high levels of antioxidant activity and are beneficial to vascular function.
Protocatechuic and vanillic acid belong to the phenolic acids family and are the reason for the reduction in blood pressure.
Dr Karen Keane, the study’s first author, said:
“The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes.
Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates.
The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure.”
Blueberry, cranberry, and blackcurrant are also high in these phenolic acids and so they can benefit the blood vessels, improve blood flow and help reduce vascular disease.
Professor Glyn Howatson, study co-author, said:
“We believe these benefits might be linked to the combined actions of some of the plant compounds within the Montmorency concentrate and the positive impact they exert on vascular function.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Keane et al., 2016).