TUESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- An apple a day won't necessarily keep the doctor away, but three kiwis just might help, at least according to a small study that showed that the brown, fuzzy fruit may lower blood pressure levels.
Men and women with mildly high blood pressure who ate three kiwi fruits a day for eight weeks had systolic blood pressure levels that were 3.6 millimeters of mercury lower than those of volunteers who ate an apple a day. Systolic blood pressure is the upper number in a blood pressure measurement.
Kiwis may be small, but they pack a lot of nutrition in their green flesh. They are rich in lutein, a potent antioxidant, and this may be what is responsible for their blood pressure-lowering powers, said researchers who were led by Mette Svendsen of Oslo University Hospital in Norway. The study was to be presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Cardiologists were quick to caution that there is no single magic food or ingredient that is the key to heart health, but they all agreed that kiwi may have a place in the five daily servings of fruit and vegetables that are currently recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet.
The new study included 50 men and 68 women with an average age of 55 who were randomly assigned to eat three kiwis or one apple a day for eight weeks. Participants had blood pressure levels in the mildly elevated range of 128/85 when the study began. A blood pressure reading that is less than 120/80 is considered ideal. They changed nothing in their diet other than adding the fruit. Researchers measured blood pressure via 24-hour ambulatory monitoring, which is thought to be more precise than measuring it during a single point in time.
The Oslo University Hospital funded the study.
"Three kiwi a day improved 24-hour blood pressure more than an apple a day," the researchers conc
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