Forget the apples; a new study has found that it's blueberries that will keep the doctor away.

According to researchers at Florida State University, eating blueberries every day could lower a person's systolic and diastolic blood pressure in just eight weeks. The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 48 postmenopausal women ages 45 to 65 who had high blood pressure. Half of the study participants ate 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (the equivalent of one cup of blueberries) every day for eight weeks, while the remaining half consumed a placebo that looked and tasted the same as the blueberry powder but without any of the nutritional content.

After eight weeks, researchers found that the participants who ate the daily dose of blueberries collectively had a systolic blood pressure that was lower by 5.1 percent and a mean diastolic blood pressure that was lower by 6.3 percent. The blueberry group also had significantly higher levels of nitric oxide, which is known to relax and widen blood vessels. The control group saw no changes in blood pressure or in nitric oxide levels.

While these changes aren't as significant as one might see from blood pressure medication, the researchers noted that the blueberry effect might be the right treatment option for someone with early-stage hypertension who wants to make lifestyle and dietary changes to control the disease. “There is something very special about the composition of blueberries that is responsible for their effect on blood pressure,” said Sarah Johnson, a postdoctoral researcher at Florida State University and the lead author of the study.  “Other fruits and plant extracts have not produced the same result.”

Pass the blueberries, please.

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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