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
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
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 concluded.
So, is kiwi the new "wonder" fruit?
"There is biological plausibility, but I would not go and grab three kiwis a day," said Dr. Nehal Mehta, a preventive cardiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "They are not easy to find or one of those fruits that people readily grab."
Moderation is the key with kiwis or any food, he said. "Three
kiwis a day or 21 kiwis a week does not seem like moderation, and I
would caution against eating that much," he said.
The new study may just "put kiwis on the map," he said. "When we
say 'eat more fresh fruit,' we stick to the tried-and-true or
anything that is handheld and peeled, but these findings suggest
that a kiwi can be part of a heart-healthy diet," he said.
In addition, the study looked at the whole fruit, not individual
nutrients. Don't start popping lutein in supplement form based on
these results, he noted.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist with Lenox Hill
Hospital in New York City, agreed. "Kiwi is not the wonder fruit,
but certainly adding kiwi to your diet can help decrease mildly
high blood pressure levels."
Dr. Elliott M. Antman, a professor of medicine at Harvard
Medical School in Boston, said that while promising, the new study
is small. "Don't count on this to be the complete answer to high
blood pressure," he said. Whatever you do, "do not stop taking your
blood pressure medications without talking to your doctor," he
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The Dash diet is often recommended to
lower blood pressure levels.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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