Flavan-3-ols, a subclass of flavonoids found abundantly in tea, apples, chocolate, berries and grapes, may help lower blood pressure naturally.
There have been many small interventional studies over the years that have demonstrated the heart health benefits of flavan-3-ols. Now there is published research from a large population study that also supports these conclusions.
Cross-Sectional Analysis of EPIC Norfolk Study
Researchers investigated cross-sectional associations between biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake and blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk markers in the over 25,000 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk cohort.
High flavan-3-ol intake, achieved from their normal diet, “was associated with a significantly lower systolic blood pressure (− 1.9 (− 2.7; − 1.1) mmHg in men and − 2.5 (− 3.3; − 1.8) mmHg in women; lowest vs highest decile of biomarker) . . . Flavanol intake could therefore have a role in the maintenance of cardiovascular health on a population scale.”
Study participants obtained most of their flavan-3-ols from tea, apples, red wine, berries and chocolate.
Why Lowering Blood Pressure Is Important
As a review, systolic blood pressure is the top number. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number is diastolic blood pressure, the amount of pressure your blood is exerting on artery walls between heart beets.
Both numbers are important. According to recent studies, the risk of death from heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89. This is why it is so important to get blood pressure under control.
Here are a few more studies that support tea, apples, berries and chocolate for lower blood pressure.
Tea for Heart Health
One meta-analysis of 11 short-term random control trials observed reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while another meta-analysis of 10 studies suggested that consumption of black tea significantly reduced LDL cholesterol.
Apples Associated with Lower Risk of Hypertension
In the Women’s Health Study, a prospective cohort of over 28,000 female US health professionals with 12.9 years of followup, greater intake of apples and raisins were associated with lower risks of developing hypertension. Apples also container quercetin, a flavonoid that has been found to decrease systolic blood pressure by 3 mmHg.
Heart Healthy Berries
In 3 prospective cohort studies of US women and men, long term intake of total whole fruit was associated with a decreased risk of developing hypertension. The fruits with the highest consumption were grapes or raisins, apples or pears, strawberries and blueberries.
Grapes May Protect Your Heart from Damage
Although I usually present human studies, the following animal study is valuable. It clearly demonstrates the advantage of lowering blood pressure with food instead of relying on drugs.
“Researchers studied the effect of regular table grapes (a blend of green, red, and black grapes) that were mixed into the rat diet in a powdered form, as part of either a high- or low-salt diet. Comparisons were made between rats consuming the grape powder and rats that received a mild dose of a common blood pressure drug. All the rats were from a research breed that develops high blood pressure when fed a salty diet.
After 18 weeks, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet powder had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than the rats that ate the same salty diet but didn’t receive grapes.
Rats that received the blood pressure medicine, hydrazine, along with a salty diet also had lower blood pressure, but their hearts were not protected from damage as they were in the grape-fed group.”
Adding grapes to your diet may help lower your blood pressure and protect your heart from the damage caused by hypertension.
Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure
One meta-analysis of a random control trial reported a – 2.77 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure and – 2.20 mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure following cocoa intake. For the most health benefits, you’ll want to choose low sugar dark chocolate or raw cacao powder.
Juicing for Blood Pressure
When you juice fruits like apples, grapes and berries, the flavan-3-ols make it into your juice glass. Including these juicy fruits in your fresh juice blends adds heart healthy flavonoids along with sweetness and flavor.
Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Lowers Blood Pressure
The number of studies linking fruits and vegetables with lower blood pressure and improved heart health continue to grow. A low-fat, whole food, plant-based diet based on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is the only way of eating proven to prevent and reverse heart disease.
Check out the 6-week Juicy Plant-Based KickStart Program.
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