Lingonberries may be the latest delicious way to lower blood pressure – well at least in rats so far. A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland say that the fruit contains chemicals that may lower hypertension and reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack.
The study investigated the effects of lingonberry juice on the blood pressure, vascular function and vascular inflammation of spontaneously hypertensive rats. After eight weeks, they found that lingonberries are rich in polyphenols, such as proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonols and flavanols, which lowered the rats’ blood pressure.
The berries also contain plentiful organic acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3), and the elements potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition, they contain phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections, and the seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
In folk medicine, lingonberries (or cowberries) were used as an apéritif, astringent, antihemorrhagic, depurative, antiseptic, a diuretic, a tonic for the nervous system and to treat breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, and various urogenital conditions.
This is not the first research to show a positive link between polyphenol-rich foods, blood pressure and the heart, but now scientists in Europe are set to run experiments and clinical trials to try figure out exactly what the benefits are and how they cause these effects.
Motivated by the growing occurrence of cardiovascular disease, currently responsible for 47 percent of deaths in Europe, the European Union has funded the study to find solutions such as better dietary habits including more consumption of foods containing bioactive substances “purported to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system.”
The study, titled ‘Beneficial effects of dietary bioactive peptides and polyphenols on cardiovascular health in humans (BACCHUS),’ aims to prove that consuming bioactive peptides and polyphenols is good for cardiovascular health, such as reducing hypertension.