Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, sometimes known as the silent killer. And when BP numbers boil over, the risk for stroke and heart disease goes up.

Perhaps if more people kicked off their day with a mug of green tea and oatmeal adorned with berries, it would help us deal with this major health problem. A study in Scientific Reports found an association between a diet high in flavan-3-ols and lower blood pressure in a population of more than 25,000 people. Flavan-3-ols are part of a large family of flavonoid antioxidants present in apples, berries, red grapes, cacao and tea.

While most studies investigating links between nutrition and health rely on study participants completing dietary questionnaires (a process fraught with inaccuracies), this one notably measured flavan-3-ol intake objectively, using nutritional biomarkers—indicators of dietary intake that are present in our blood.

The difference in blood pressure between those in the lowest 10% for flavan-3-ol intake and those in the highest 10% was between 2 and 4 milligrams of mercury, with people who had hypertension benefiting most from eating more of this antioxidant. Although the true mechanism isn’t known, the flavan-3-ols you will get in this sweet-savory berry sauce (or in the berries and tea you enjoy at breakfast!) seem to push some of the right biological buttons for shaving down BP numbers. Makes four servings.

 

4 (5–6 oz) salmon fillets

2 t canola oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 t minced fresh ginger

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

3 t balsamic vinegar

2 t honey

2 t fresh thyme

2 t lemon zest

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

2 T chopped fresh chives

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place salmon on a greased or parchment paper–lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15–18 minutes or until fish is just barely cooked through in the centre. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and ginger to pan and heat 2 minutes. Place blueberries, thyme, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Serve salmon topped with blueberry sauce and garnished with chives.

See also: Grilled Salmon Spelt Salad With Blueberry Vinaigrette