NORWICH, England — Sorry apple, the blueberry may have just leapfrogged you. A new study finds that eating a cup of blueberries a day may keep cardiovascular disease away.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia found that consuming 150g of blueberries daily not only slashes cardiovascular disease risk by up to 15%, but the effect is particularly strong among overweight individuals who are already at an elevated risk of the condition.
“Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits,” says lead researcher Aedin Cassidy, a professor from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, in a statement. “We wanted to find out whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing these sort of conditions.”
For their study, researchers recruited 138 overweight and obese people between ages 50 and 75, with metabolic syndrome, a condition that significantly boosts one’s risk of heart disease. People with metabolic syndrome have at least three of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of “good cholesterol,” and high levels of triglycerides.
Participants ate either 150 gram portions (one cup) or 75 gram portions of freeze-dried blueberries every day for six months. Others consumed a placebo made from artificial colors and flavorings.
Co-lead, Dr Peter Curtis, said: “We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness – making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12% and 15%,” says co-lead author Dr. Peter Curtis.
Interestingly, there was no benefit seen from those who ate half a cup of blueberries.
“The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health,” says Curtis.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.