Sunday, October 09, 2016

Can Blueberry Help Prevent Heart Disease?

Being one of the few fruits native to North America, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries in the United States. It also contains one of the highest amount of antioxidant among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings.

Various studies have looked into blueberries for treatment of certain medical conditions like diabetes, infections, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, though all with mixed results. There is only a few research on the effect of eating blueberries on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and most of these have been done in animals, such as pigs and rats. Some findings have indicated that total cholesterol levels were lowered by at least 8 percent and LDL cholesterol was reduced by up to 15 percent after 8 weeks, after animals were fed a daily diet consisting of about 4 percent blueberries.

Cholesterol levels play an important role in one’s health. High level of total cholesterol levels, especially the LDL (low-density lipoprotein), can put a person at risk of developing chronic diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 

So far, not too many studies have been conducted to examine the effect of blueberry consumption on lipids in people. These studies mainly involved healthy individuals and people with metabolic disease, and the findings did not actually show significant changes by consuming blueberries. However, it was reported by one study that drinking a one-liter mixture of freeze-dried and fresh blueberries did cut oxidized LDL by 28 percent. Oxidized LDL is a type of LDL that can promote the formation of atherosclerosis.  

In Jan 2013, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School pointed out in their paper, which was published in ‘Harvard Health Publications’, that eating more blueberries and strawberries, 3 times a week, may be a tasty way to protect the heart.

By gathering data from 93,600 women aged between 25 and 42 in the Nurses' Health Study, the researchers found that over the course of 18 years, women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries were at higher risk of heart attack. Those who ate the most were 34 percent less likely to have suffered a heart attack than those who ate the least of these fruits. According to them, the findings should likely apply to everyone, including men, though the study focused on young and middle-age women.

To get the heart benefits, people should eat at least 3 servings of a half cup of blueberries or strawberries each week. Blueberries and strawberries are particularly rich in chemical compounds called anthocyanins. Research suggests that anthocyanins have several effects on the body. They lower blood pressure, and they make blood vessels more elastic.

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