Apples are out and Kiwis are in, now it’s three kiwis a day to keep the doctor away. Individuals from southern China can be proud of their native fruit once again, as new research shows the furry fruit lowering blood pressure.

Kiwis may be one of the smaller fruits, but they are stacked with nutritional contents in their juicy green flesh; inlcuding Lutein, a powerful antioxidant which is thought to be one of the active components in the fruit that reduces blood pressure.

Researchers who were led by Mette Svendsen of Oslo University Hospital in Norway point to lutein as having benefits, but cardiologists were quick to say that there is no magic bullet or compound that is going to take care of a person’s heart health, it’s more a question of a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise. Kiwis though, can happily make up one of the recommended five a day servings of fruit and vegetables that have shown to improve health in the long run.

The study, funded by the Oslo University Hospital, included 50 men and 68 women with an average age of 55 who were randomly assigned to eat three kiwis or one apple a day for eight weeks. Participants had blood pressure levels in the mildly elevated range of 128/85 when the study began. A blood pressure reading that is less than 120/80 is considered ideal. They changed nothing in their diet other than adding the fruit. Researchers measured blood pressure via 24-hour ambulatory monitoring, which is thought to be more precise than measuring it during a single point in time.

The researchers concluded:

“Three kiwi a day improved 24-hour blood pressure more than an apple a day.”

Others were more skeptical Dr. Nehal Mehta, a preventive cardiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia said:

“There is biological plausibility, but I would not go and grab three kiwis a day … They are not easy to find or one of those fruits that people readily grab.”

The new study may help to do for kiwis what a previous study did for red wine, which is also known to have positive benefits for the heart. Of course all of this information comes with a caution of moderation and balance and Dr. Elliott M. Antman, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, pointed out that while promising, the new study was made with only a small group of people :

“Don’t count on this to be the complete answer to high blood pressure … do not stop taking your blood pressure medications without talking to your doctor.”

Written by Rupert Shepherd