A study presented at the High Blood Pressure Research 2012 conference
reported that drinking 2 eight-ounce glass of low calorie cranberry juice
regularly may help lower blood pressure in non-hypertensive healthy adults.
Cranberry, already known for its urinary tract benefits, contains flavonoids (antioxidants) that have been found in other studies to be associated with lower blood pressure and to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
In this randomized controlled trial, Janet Novotny at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland, and her colleagues, measured the blood pressure effects of drinking low-calorie cranberry juice on 56 healthy non-hypertensive subjects with mean age of 51 and BMI of 28.4 kg / sqm. The subjects were given two 8-ounce glasses of low calorie cranberry juice every day for 8 weeks.
Results showed that blood pressure dropped from an average of 121/73 mmHg to 118/70 mmHg in the cranberry juice group but there were no changes in the placebo group.
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure fell by an average of 3 mmHg when the trial ended. Most studies 'show a systolic effect without a diastolic impact when lowering blood pressure' according to Novotny. In this study, the researchers found that the average diastolic blood pressure was lower in the cranberry juice group at 69 mmHg whereas in the placebo group it was 72 mmHg at the end of the treatment.
Cranberry juice is helpful as long as it does not increase the calorie intake. So the researchers suggested drinking low-calorie cranberry juice to get maximum benefits.
'If they are trying to reduce blood pressure through diet, low-calorie cranberry juice would be something that would be good and healthful to include in the diet' says Novotny.
'We are trying to replace less healthful fruit juices with more healthful fruit juices. So, we chose cranberry because of more health benefits including blood pressure', she added.
'Regular calorie cranberry juice can be quite high in added sugar and high in calories, so I do recommend that people look for the lower-calorie option in cranberry juice' advised Dr Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington and chair of the American Heart Association's nutrition committee.
This study was published as an abstract and presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions. The study is yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal.
The study was funded by Ocean Spray Cranberries, which provided the study drink. Also, one of the co-authors was an employee of Ocean Spray Cranberries.
1. American Heart Association News Tip - Abstract 299