Fruit fight: Kiwi tops apple in blood pressure study

PHOTO: Fruit fight: Kiwi tops apple in blood pressure study

ORLANDO - An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but three kiwis could lower your blood pressure.

A study at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Orlando on Tuesday found that eating the fuzzy-skinned fruit with the tart green flesh three times a day was associated with a drop in blood pressure. High blood pressure is considered a risk factor for heart disease, which is still the world's No. 1 killer.

The eight-week study, led by Mette Svendsen of Oslo University Hospital in Norway, involved 118 subjects with an average age of 55 and mildly high blood pressure.

One group added three kiwis to their daily diet, while the other half added the proverbial apple a day. Kiwis contain lutein, which has antioxidant properties.

After eight weeks, researchers found the kiwi group's 24-hour systolic blood pressure was an average of 3.6 millimeters of mercury lower than that of the apple eaters. Systolic is the top number of the blood pressure reading.

Diastolic blood pressure was also lower in the kiwi group, but that association to the fruit was not as clear, researchers said. They recommended that the findings be confirmed with a larger study.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the kiwi fruit study was that it was conducted in Norway and not in New Zealand.