Eat Blueberries To Protect Your Heart
This news comes from a study performed in the UK where researchers tested the benefits of a daily dish of blueberries among people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The study participants had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a combination of three or more risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides. The 138 participants were between age 50 and 75 and all were overweight or obese. For six months, they ate blueberries (either a cup or half a cup daily) or were provided a purple-colored placebo. Results showed that eating a daily cup of blueberries cut the risk of heart disease by 12 to 15 percent via sustained improvements in vascular function and reduced arterial stiffness. The amount seems to matter – the researchers found no significant benefit from eating a half cup of blueberries daily. They credited the anthocyanins – flavonoids responsible for the red and blue color in fruits – with the health benefits seen.
My take? I’m an advocate of eating a wide variety of berries, including blueberries. Although the benefits of smaller portions were not readily apparent in this study population a half cup of blueberries is equivalent to the antioxidant power of five servings of peas, carrots, apples, squash or broccoli. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber – a half-cup serving gives you almost three grams. The new findings that a daily dish of blueberries can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among people with metabolic syndrome is welcome news. I’m optimistic that further research will show that these berries also have an important role to play in preventing cancer, diabetes, and neurological diseases. I eat blueberries regularly (and recommend sourcing organically grown varieties).
Aedín Cassidy et al, “Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome—results from a 6-month, double-blind, randomized controlled trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 28, 2019; 109 (6): 1535 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy380
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