Raisins and soy may ward off high blood pressure

March 26, 2012 by Jean-Louis Santini

Eating raisins and soy appears to help ward off high blood pressure, a key risk factor in heart disease, according to two studies presented at a major US cardiology conference on Sunday.

Munching on a handful of raisins three times a day helped people with slightly elevated blood pressure lower their numbers after several weeks, said one of the studies presented at the American College of Cardiology conference.

The -- believed to be the first formal measurement of raisins' benefits on blood pressure -- involved 46 people with a condition known as pre-hypertension.

That means their blood pressure ranged from 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) to 139 millimeters of mercury over 89 mm Hg, or just higher than normal.

Compared to people who snacked on cookies or crackers, the raisin-eating group saw significant drops in blood pressure, in some cases lowering the top number, or systolic pressure, by 10.2, or seven percent over the 12-week study.

Researchers are not sure exactly why the raisins work so well, but they think it may have to do with the high level of potassium in the shriveled, dried grapes.

"Raisins are packed with potassium, which is known to ," said lead investigator Harold Bays, medical director of Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center.

"They are also a good source of antioxidant that may favorably alter the biochemistry of blood vessels, causing them to be less stiff, which in turn, may reduce blood pressure."

A handful of about 60 raisins contains a gram of fiber and 212 milligrams of . Raisins are often recommended as part of a high-fiber, low-fat diet to reduce blood pressure.

A second study on soy showed that daily intake of foods like tofu, peanuts and helped lower blood pressure in more than 5,100 white and African American people aged 18-30.

The study began in 1985 and was based on self-reported data about the food the participants ate.

Those who consumed about 2.5 or more milligrams of isoflavones, a key component in soy, per day had significantly lower systolic blood pressure -- an average of 5.5 mmHg lower -- than those who ate less than 0.33 mg per day.

That daily level should not be hard for most people to reach -- a glass of soy milk contains about 22 mg of isoflavones, or nearly 10 times the amount needed to see an effect, according to the research.

"Our results strongly suggest a blood pressure benefit for moderate amounts of dietary isoflavone intake in young black and white adults," said Safiya Richardson, a graduating medical student at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and the study's lead investigator.

"Our study is the first to show a benefit in African Americans, who have a higher incidence of , with an earlier onset and more severe end-organ damage."

Eating soy could be a way for people with slightly elevated blood pressure to avoid progressing to high blood pressure, and potentially ward off the need to take medications, she added.

"Any dietary or lifestyle modification people can easily make that doesn't require a daily medication is exciting, especially considering recent figures estimating that only about one third of American hypertensives have their blood pressure under control."

Soy and the isoflavones it contains work by boosting enzymes that create nitric oxide, which in turns helps to widen and reduce blood pressure.

"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 ," Richardson said.

Explore further: Soy/milk protein dietary supplements linked to lower blood pressure

Related Stories

Soy/milk protein dietary supplements linked to lower blood pressure

July 18, 2011
Milk and soy protein supplements were associated with lower systolic blood pressure compared to refined carbohydrate dietary supplements, in a study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Blood pressure medicines reduce stroke risk in people with prehypertension

December 8, 2011
People with prehypertension had a lower risk of stroke when they took blood pressure-lowering medicines, according to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Black tea reduces blood pressure: study

January 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Drinking a cup of black tea three times a day may significantly reduce your blood pressure.

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kochevnik
not rated yet Mar 26, 2012
Hemp is far better than soy, which is a weed. Soy is in limited use in Asian nations, but used in more processed foodstuffs in the West. In fact, the FDA lists the soybean plant over 280 times in its Poisonous Plant Database.

"Regular cooking methods do not lessen the dangers of soy consumption, unless the beans are cooked for at least 10 hours at high temperatures and pressures."

http://www.health...soy.html
Isaacsname
not rated yet Mar 26, 2012
mmmmmmmmmmm....soy raisins

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.