A 'dose' of tart cherry concentrate could lower blood pressure as effectively as drugs. [Photo: Bigstock]

Tart cherry juice effectively lowers blood pressure

16 May, 2016

Natural Health News — Drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice significantly reduces high blood pressure at a level comparable to that achieved by drugs, according to new research.

High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg.

The small study found that men with early signs of hypertension saw a 7% reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to those drinking a fruit-flavoured cordial.

What you need to know

» High blood pressure is widely known as a silent killer; with few symptoms, it is nevertheless connected to heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia.

» A small study involving men with hypertension found that tart cherry juice produced an immediate blood pressure lowering effect – and that the effect was greatest in those with the highest blood pressure.

» The reductions in blood pressure in those drinking the cherry concentrate were as high as those seen with conventional drugs.

Researchers from Northumbria University worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular-related problems.

Participants were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial.

As good as drugs – and fast

Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours as well.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition the researchers say that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink.

Past studies have shown that a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg over a sustained period has been associated with a 38% reduced risk of stroke and 23% reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Interestingly, those participants with blood pressure levels at the higher end of the scale saw the most benefit.

Lead author and Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Karen Keane, noes that: “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.”

Beneficial phenolic compounds

The greatest improvement in systolic blood pressure occurred when the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic, within the cherry concentrate reached their peak levels in the blood. The researchers believe that these particular compounds are, at least in part, responsible for the reduction.

The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by lifestyle factors that can be controlled, treated or modified, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes. In addition, 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.

This is the first study to investigate the fast acting effects of Montmorency tart cherry consumption on blood pressure, and it’s results complement a growing body of research to show that eating the right sorts of foods can provide potential health benefits.