It's not often you find something super-sweet that's also super-good for you... so consider this permission to indulge in delicious berries.
Especially strawberries and blueberries.
These fruits pack a terrific antioxidant punch in a tiny little package--and now, a new study finds they can also lower your risk of high blood pressure.
Researchers looked at data on more than 150,000 people, including 87,242 women who took part in the Nurses' Health Study II, 46,672 women who participated in Nurses' Health Study I, and 23,043 men who were in the Health Professionals Follow-up study.
Over 14 years of follow-ups, the researchers found that those who ate the most foods containing the antioxidant anthocyanin--found especially in those blueberries and strawberries--were 8 percent less likely to come down with hypertension than those who ate the smallest amount.
The researchers say the benefits of berries held after adjusting for risk factors such as family history, weight, diet and physical activity levels... but fell apart as the volunteers reached the age of 60.
And that, they say, is because berries can only take you so far--if you eat nothing but junk, hypertension will catch up to you eventually.
Berries might delay it, but they can't stop it.
One more note on this: Not all berries are created equal--and some "berries" aren't berries at all.
A recent investigation by the Consumer Wellness Center found that the supposed berries used in cereals and snacks are often just sugar, flavorings and artificial colors dressed up to look like berries.
In reality, they have all the health benefits of a Cap'n Crunch Berry.
General Mills actually has the audacity to sell a cereal called Total Blueberry Pomegranate... which contains neither blueberries nor pomegranates.
Of course, there's an easy way to sort the real berries from the phony ones: Just don't eat any packaged foods in the first place. If you can't pick your berries yourself, get them from the produce aisle.