Can blueberries reduce your risk for heart disease?
(NaturalHealth365) As we all know, blueberries are packed with lots of great nutrients and often celebrated by scientists for their health benefits. But, can they really help lower your risk of heart disease?
That’s precisely what a group of researchers from the University of East Anglia and scientists from Harvard University set out to discover in a recent study. They specifically wanted to find out if eating blueberries regularly could change the metabolic profile of individuals with metabolic syndrome – a group of conditions like high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure that can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers find out how one cup of blueberries can improve heart health
Smaller, previous studies have linked consuming blueberries to a lower risk of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe that may be because blueberries contain a significant amount of anthocyanins, flavonoids that have been shown to reduce overall mortality risk, as well.
To investigate further, the team gathered 115 people with metabolic syndrome between the ages of 50 and 75. All participants were also obese or overweight.
The study ran for six months, and at the end of the trial, the group of people who ate one cup of blueberries each day enjoyed improvements in arterial stiffness and vascular function, reducing their heart disease risk by 12-15%.
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Scientists believed that these heart benefits could be attributed to the anthocyanins in blueberries.
Anthocyanins are metabolized in the lower intestine to produce chemicals, some of which help sustain resident gut bacteria, and they very likely play a beneficial metabolic role, according to study authors. Researchers also pointed out that other foods that contain significant amounts of anthocyanin include blackberries, plums, red raspberries, black raspberries, purple potatoes, and blackcurrants.
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Beyond reducing your risk of heart disease, science has uncovered many other benefits to eating blueberries. Studies found that eating two cups of blueberries daily can offer significant improvements in mobility for aging adults, reducing the risk of falls and improving the overall quality of life.
Blueberries also contain cancer-fighting compounds that can help prevent the DNA damage that results in cancer-causing mutations and slow down the growth rate of cancer cells.
Blueberries offer other proven health benefits, too, such as:
- Repairing and rejuvenating the skin
- Promoting bone health
- Improving cognitive function
- Aiding in weight loss
- Helping with blood sugar control
- Lowering blood pressure
How can you start reaping the benefits of blueberries?
Choose fresh, powdered, or frozen (organic) blueberries and add them to salads, smoothies, or make them a healthy snack. And keep in mind, wild blueberries offer even more of a nutritional punch than domestic blueberries, so they’re worth the extra investment.
Sources for this article include: