Do Tart Cherry Supplements Affect Your Blood Pressure?

Approximately 116 million adults in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Of those, more than 90 million don't have the condition under control, including the nearly 70 million adults who have been advised to take prescription medication and make lifestyle changes. In general, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure affects more men than women, but 44% of hypertension patients are female.

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may simply recommend that you make some adjustments to your lifestyle. These adjustments include changing your diet to one with less sodium, losing weight, and quitting smoking. If these changes aren't enough, medication may be necessary. Your doctor may prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, or even diuretics, such as water pills. However, there could be an effective remedy for high blood pressure that you pass every day at the supermarket without even realizing it, namely, tart cherries.

Studies show that tart cherries can affect blood pressure

Tart cherry juice has long been touted for its various curative properties, from its profusion of antioxidants to its ability to reduce inflammation (via WebMD). However, tart cherries may also play a role in lowering blood pressure, according to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That study showed that hypertensive men who consumed tart cherry juice saw a reduction in their systolic blood pressure within three hours. Similarly, a 2018 study published in Food & Function observed hypertensive men and women over a 12-week period. Those who drank tart cherry juice showed significantly lower systolic blood pressure than those who drank a placebo.

One of the reasons why tart cherries may be such a powerful ally in the battle against blood pressure is the presence of polyphenols (via Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition). A 2015 study published by the British Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming polyphenol-rich fruits and berries had a distinct impact on lowering the blood pressure of hypertensive patients.

Do your homework beforehand

Tart cherry supplements can help you manage your blood pressure, but people looking to add them to their diet or vitamin routine should be cautious. If you are taking a supplement that contains tart cherries, make sure you know the ingredients and whether or not you have any allergies. You should also talk to your doctor if you have kidney problems, especially if you are on dialysis, as these supplements could harm your kidneys.

In addition, tart cherry supplements can have some side effects, such as nervousness, trouble sleeping, unexpected weight loss, and constipation or diarrhea. In more serious cases, people may experience intense stomach pain or memory loss. However, this last side effect is rare and a 2016 study published in Age showed that tart cherry supplements may, in fact, improve cognition While there are always possible side effects to any supplement, tart cherries may also offer a lot of physical and mental health benefits. Talk to your doctor to make an informed decision.