A new study showed eating raisins three times a day could significantly lower your blood pressure if you have mild hypertension.
Researchers presented this not-yet-published study – which they claim is the first to scientifically support raisins’ blood pressure-lowering effects compared to other snacks – at the American College of Cardiology’s 61st Annual Scientific Session.
It is often stated as a known fact that raisins lower blood pressure. But we could not find much objective evidence in the medical literature to support such a claim,” said Dr. Harold Bays, the study’s lead investigator.
“However, our study suggests if you have a choice between eating raisins or other snacks like crackers and chocolate chip cookies, you may be better off snacking on raisins at least with respect to blood pressure.”
For this study, researchers gave 46 men and women with pre-hypertension raisins or an equivalent-calorie snack (such as cookies or crackers) three times a day for 12 weeks.
Raisins significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, whereas the other snacks did not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of Americans have pre-hypertension, which they define as a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg.
In other words, pre-hypertension is a condition several steps away from becoming full-blown hypertension.
While the study didn’t show how raisins lowered blood pressure, researchers pointed out they’re packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and other nutrients that could reduce hypertension.
Now, full disclosure: the California Raisin Marketing Board funded this study. I’m not arguing it was biased or anything, but it’s always good to know who funds these studies.
I’m a fan of raisins, particularly if you snack on them rather than M & Ms or other junk food.
When you were a kid, you might have made raisins for a science experiment. As you might remember, when you put grapes in the sun to dry, they lose water and eventually become raisins.
But rather than sun-drying grapes, modern-day processing mechanically oven-dries them to speed up the process.
Now for the not-great news: raisins have the highest pesticide residue of any fruit. So if you eat raisins, go organic.
Raisins are affectionately known as nature’s candy. They’ve also gotten a bad rep in some circles for being too concentrated in sugar.
Now, these are definitely not an all-you-can-eat food. And if you have any kind of insulin resistance or want to lose weight, you might want to forego or at least minimize raisin snacking. You most definitely don’t want to gorge on three servings a day like people did in this study.
But not so fast with criticizing raisins. A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that raisins were second highest of all dried fruits in antioxidants.
Raisins offer boron, a mineral that’s important for bone and joint health. They’re also a great source of flavonoids.
If you’re talking fruit hierarchy, raisins don’t rank anywhere near, say, blueberries on the health scale. Whereas blueberries are the valedictorian, raisins would be getting by with a solid B-.
If you want to reduce blood pressure and don’t have weight issues, enjoy organic raisins three times a day. If fat loss is your goal, however, opt for more nutrient dense, lower-sugar choices like blueberries and strawberries.