Drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure, particularly in males with early hypertension, to a level comparable to that achieved by medication.
New research has found that high blood pressure if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia.
The findings showed that men who drank tart Montmorency cherry juice - a variety of sour cherry - saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of seven millimetre of mercury (mmHg) in the three hours after consuming the drink.
"This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive drugs," the researchers said.
When phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic - compounds present within the cherry concentrate - reached their peak levels in the plasma, systolic blood pressure showed greatest improvement.
"The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure," said lead author Karen Keane, lecturer at Northumbria University in Britain.
Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from heart diseases, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates, Keane added.
The team worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mm Hg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing heart related problems.
They were given either 60 ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial.
Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter.
(With agency inputs)