(Natural News) Looking for ways to keep your heart healthy? Consider eating more blueberries. A study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A suggested that blueberries contain phytochemicals that significantly improve cardiovascular health. These phytochemicals are known as anthocyanins, which give blueberries (and other red, blue, and purple-colored foods) their color.
For the first part of the study, a team of European researchers recruited 40 healthy participants and randomly divided them into two groups: One group consumed a drink containing 200 g of blueberries, and another group received a control drink. Both groups consumed their assigned drink every day for a month. For the second part of the study, the researchers compared the effects of drinking blueberries with drinking purified anthocyanins or control drinks that contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins equivalent to those in blueberries.
The researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure and the flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of their brachial arteries. FMD is a standard indicator of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk that measures how much the brachial artery widens when blood flows at a higher rate.
Results showed that purified anthocyanins caused a dose-dependent improvement of endothelial function in healthy participants. The endothelium, a type of membrane inside the heart and blood vessels, contains endothelial cells that help control the dilation and contraction of the arteries. These cells also regulate blood pressure and blood clotting.
The researchers observed similar effects to those of blueberries containing similar amounts of anthocyanins. However, control drinks containing fiber, minerals, or vitamins did not improve cardiovascular health.
The researchers also found that participants who consumed 200 g blueberries reduced their blood pressure by 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), on average. They also observed the beneficial effects of the blueberry drinks after only two hours since consumption.
From these findings, the researchers concluded that anthocyanin metabolites are primarily responsible for the cardiovascular benefits of blueberries. They also noted that if these cardiovascular benefits of daily blueberry consumption could be sustained for an individual’s whole life, the person could lower his risk of CVD by as much as 20 percent. (Related: Blueberries not only taste great but dramatically lower the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.)
You can also find anthocyanins in foods such as acai, bilberry, chokeberry, elderberry, grapes, kidney beans, pomegranates, red onions, tart cherries, and tomatoes. Additionally, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. In herbal medicine, this type of flavonoid is used to treat colds, obesity, and urinary infections.
Eat more of the blue stuff
Aside from improving cardiovascular health, eating blueberries provides the following health benefits:
- Keeps your bones healthy – Blueberries contain calcium iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin K – all of which contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.
- Improves skin health – Blueberries contain good amounts of vitamin C, which prevents skin damage and promotes the ability of collagen to smooth wrinkles and enhance overall skin texture.
- Prevents cancer – Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect cells against damage from free radicals. The folate in blueberries, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, also prevents the formation of cancer cells due to DNA mutations, according to a study in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.
For more foods that help prevent heart disease, such as blueberries, visit ReverseHeartDisease.news.