Eating 3 kiwifruit a day may lead to small reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure according to a study presented at the 2011 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida this month.
The study, led by Mette Svendsen of the Oslo University Hospital in Norway, involved 118 middle aged men and women who were randomly assigned to consume either three kiwifruit or one apple per day for eight weeks in addition to their regular diet. The researchers found that compared to the apple group, 24-hour systolic blood pressure was reduced by 3.3 mmHg in the kiwifruit group (about a 3% reduction). Diastolic blood pressure was also reduced by 1.6 mmHg however this effect did not reach statistical significance.
The researchers suggested that: “Incorporating kiwi intake as part of DASH or other diets for treatment of hypertension should be studied”.
Although significant improvements in blood pressure management have been achieved over the past 50 years through the use of drugs such as beta-blockers, hypertension still remains a significant problem in the United States, particularly in the elderly. It is estimated that 60% of adults over the age of 65 still suffer from hypertension (a blood pressure over 140/90 mm/Hg).
While eating as many as 3 kiwifruit a day may seem excessive, it is certainly worth adding kiwifruit to your diet if you are concerned about your heart disease risk, particularly given that previous studies have shown the fruit possesses a number of other cardiovascular benefits.
A 2004 Norwegian study, published in the journal Platelets, found that consuming 2-3 kiwifruit a day for 4 weeks resulted in a 15% reduction in triglyceride levels as well as inhibiting the aggregation of platelets. Platelets play a significant role in the development of both atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
A second study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in 2009, involved 43 Taiwanese adults who were asked to consume 2 kiwifruit a day for 8 weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the participants had significantly reduced levels of LDL cholesterol oxidation and higher overall HDL levels than at the beginning of the study.
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