Munching Raisins Helps Lowering Blood Pressure

April 1, 2012

I have an unhealthy addiction to raisins. If I know that there are raisins sitting somewhere in the kitchen I have to eat them. I just can’t help it. 
In an effort to restrain myself, I buy them only once a week. Usually the package doesn’t last during the 12 blocks walk between Whole Foods and my apartment. No kidding, I eat them one after the other like if I was in some sort of raisins withdrawal.
I can’t even claim that I’m some sort of raisins gourmet. No matter if they’re California Golden, Thompson, Red Flame or the more classical Sultanas, as long as they’re raisins I have eat them until the very last one.
Now, I’m aware that raisins are an healthy snack food, a bit packed with sugars, but healthy.

Fortunately for me, today I have one more reason to rejoice of my raisins addiction. According to a study presented on Monday March 26 at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session, daily consumption of raisins (i.e., three times a day) may significantly lower blood pressure, especially if compared to eating other common snacks.
This study’s findings become even more exciting if you think that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly one in three American adults (28%) suffers from prehypertension...pretty soon my "raisins addiction club" will have new members!





The study

For already quite some time raisins have been praised for their capacity to lower blood pressure. If you actually do a search on Google you’ll be surprised of the numerous results you’ll find on this topic. However, the data so far was scarce and not conclusive, but this one time researchers were able to scientifically assess that raisins have blood pressure-lowering effects, especially if compared to other snacks.
In this study Dr. Harold Bays (medical director and president of Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center) and his team conducted a controlled clinical trial to compare the blood pressure effect of eating raisins versus other snacks in 46 men and women with prehypertension.
Participants were randomly assigned to snack on raisins or prepackaged commercial snacks that did not contain raisins, other fruits or vegetables but had the same number of calories per serving three times a day for 12 weeks.
Data analyses found that compared to other snacks, raisins significantly reduced systolic blood pressure at weeks 4, 8, and 12. Within group analysis demonstrated that raisins significantly reduced mean diastolic blood pressure at all study visits.
Other pre-packaged snacks (including crackers and cookies) did not significantly reduce systolic or diastolic blood pressure at any study visit.
"Overall, these findings support what many people intrinsically believe: that natural foods often have greater health benefits than processed foods," Dr. Bays said. YAY!!!!




However, the study was not able to determine how exactly raisins lowered blood pressure.
"Raisins are packed with potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure," Dr. Bays said. "They are also a good source of antioxidant dietary fiber that may favorably alter the biochemistry of blood vessels, causing them to be less stiff, which in turn, may reduce blood pressure."
While this study's findings help validate some current nutritional recommendations Dr. Bays cautions that this was a single site study; larger trials are needed to confirm the blood pressure-regulating effect of raisins.

Considerations

Raisins are delicious, there’s no denying in that, and apparently full of health benefits. Beside being high in potassium, raisins are also rich in fiber, polyphenols, phenolic acid, tannins and other antioxidants. 
However, let’s not forget that when grapes are dried the fructose in them becomes so concentrated that at the end raisins are over 70% pure fructose. Now, fructose is much more digestible than sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but it’s still a sugar so one needs to be careful.
One small box of raising (1.5 oz) or raisins scores around 129 calories which is not bad for a snack, but if you’re like me and will eat three boxes one after the other you’ll get to around 400 calories...ouch!

The Iron You

2 comments:

  1. You can sign me up in the "Raisins Addiction Club", I also have a problem with them!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been loving some giant smoothies with giant raisins on top lately : )

    ReplyDelete