Consuming lots of fruit and vegetables can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, say British researchers.
Over a six-month study period, 690 healthy persons, aged 25-64 years, were encouraged to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. During this time, researchers measured blood levels of antioxidants and monitored blood pressure.
The study participants showed significantly higher levels of the carotenoid antioxidants alpha- and beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, the yellow pigment lutein and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) than did the controls.
Perhaps more important, among those who increased their fruit and vegetable intake, systolic and diastolic blood pressures fell significantly, too - by 4.0 mmHg and 1.5 mmHg, respectively - despite no instructions to cut down on fats or salt.
The authors conclude what nutritionists have known for years - that if this simple dietary intervention were to be taken on board by more practitioners and patients, it could result in substantially less cardiovascular disease among the general population (Lancet, 2002; 359: 1969-74).