That’s the conclusion of a recent study (1) led by researchers at both the University of East Anglia in the UK and Harvard. Eating 150g of blueberries a day has a protective effect on the cardio-metabolic system due to the flavonoids naturally present in these small berries.
The research team were investigating metabolic syndrome, a problem which now affects a third of all adults in the West. An individual is said to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least three of the following five cardiovascular risk factors: high blood pressure, low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, elevated triglyceride levels, high blood sugar and excess abdominal fat (large waist circumference).
Metabolic syndrome significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and often requires prescription drugs to treat the accompanying symptoms. According to the results of this study, eating 150 grams (a small bowl) of blueberries a day was shown to have a clear protective effect. It reduced arterial stiffness and improved vascular function in general, lowering cardiovascular risk by 12-15% in those with metabolic syndrome!
Blueberries’ heart benefits lie in the anthocyanins found at high concentrations in this tiny fruit. Anthocyanins are the natural pigments that give these berries their characteristic blue colour. In fact, they’re responsible for the red-violet-blue plant pigmentation of many fruits, flowers, and leaves. For example, the red colour of grapes (and therefore wine) is down to anthocyanins! They are part of the large family of flavonoids – the polyphenols found in many plants which are widely-recognised for their health benefits.
The study’s authors therefore recommend that alongside a balanced diet, we should be consuming blueberries on a regular basis in order to benefit from their remarkable properties … bring on the blueberry harvest!
(1) P. J. Curtis,V. van der Velpen, L. Berends, A. Jennings, M. Feelisch, M. Umpleby, M. Evans, B. O. Fernandez, M. S. Meiss, M. Minnion, J. Potter, A. Minihane, C. D. Kay, E. B. Rimm, A. Cassidy. Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome—results from a 6-month, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol 109, pp 1535–1545, 2019.
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