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Drinking cherry juice could lower high blood pressure, the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease, as effectively as medication claims a new study from Northumbria University, Newcastle.

The research shows that people who drank 60ml of Montmorency cherry concentrate, diluted with water, saw their blood pressure drop by 7 per cent within three hours. The reduction was comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive medication and enough to slash the risk of a stroke by 38 per cent or heart disease by 23 per cent.

High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke and dementia.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tested 15 people who were displaying early signs of high blood pressure.

The volunteers were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial. Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours.

The scientists found that the participants given the cherry concentrate saw their peak blood pressure drop 7 per cent further than those who drank the fruit cordial.

The scientists think that cherry juice has such a strong impact on blood pressure because it is rich in phenolic acids – a type of naturally-occuring antioxidant.

Lead author and lecturer in sport and exercise nutrition, Karen Keane, said: “The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes.”

“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.”

“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.”

Prof. Glyn Howatson, research leader and professor in human and applied physiology, added: “This exciting set of data complements a growing body of research to show that eating the right sorts of foods can provide potential health benefits.”

Montmorency tart cherry juice has also been shown to be beneficial for workout recovery as it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.

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