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Raisins and Soy May Ward Off High Blood Pressure

Eating soy and raisins may help ward off high blood pressure, according to two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology on March 25.

The first study measured the blood pressure of 46 study participants with pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, over the course of 12 weeks. Compared to individuals who snacked on cookies or crackers, those who snacked on raisins saw significant drops in blood pressure.

The researchers believe high concentrations of potassium and fiber found in raisins are at least partially responsible for their beneficial impacts on blood pressure.

A second, large-scale study showed that daily consumption of foods containing isoflavones significantly lowers blood pressure in young adults. Scientists believe isoflavones increase the body’s production of enzymes that create nitric acid, a substance that helps widen blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Isoflavones are found in soy foods, green tea, and peanuts.

The study monitored the dietary intake and blood pressure of over 5,000 white and African-American individuals between the ages of 18 and 30. They found that the individuals who consumed more than 2.5 mg of isoflavones had a systolic pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) 5.5 mmHg lower than those who consumed less than 0.33 mg. This level of isoflavone intake can easily be achieved through diet. One glass of soy milk, for example, contains about 22 mg of isoflavones.

The study’s lead author noted: “Based on our results and those of previous studies, we would encourage the average adult to consider including moderate amounts of soy products in a healthy, well-balanced diet to reduce the chances of developing high blood pressure.”

This study is the first to show a benefit in African-Americans, who have a higher incidence and earlier onset of high blood pressure than the general population.

A handful of raisins and a glass of soy milk just might be the perfect snack to ward off high blood pressure!

Image Credit: Brandon Giesbrecht/Flickr