Stunning star berry


Blueberries and their role in heart health

I spy with my little eye, a fruit that’s tasty, handy, snackable and filling – any guesses as to which gem we’re talking about? It has also been referred to as a star berry thanks to the star shape on its blossom end. Give up? It’s the blueberry!  With nutrition benefits that could fill a treasure trove, a recent study adds one more. Just one cup a day could lower cardiovascular disease risk by 15%.  Easy to eat and keeps your mind, body and heart in good condition – that makes this berry a star in our book.

Researchers at the University of East Angila, England organized the longest randomized control trial to date (6 months) to see how blueberry intake would affect heart and insulin function in people with metabolic syndrome. The team worked with 138 overweight or obese people between 50-75 years old randomly assigning each to consume one cup, ½ cup or placebo daily for 6 months. They were also instructed to limit other anthocyanins (AKA healthful compounds that give foods their deep blue, red, orange or green color) in the diet.

Results showed that a cup of blueberries improved both vascular function and cholesterol levels decreasing CVD risk to the tune of 12-15%. The study’s co-lead Dr. Peter Curtis says the simple takeaway message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health; a doable task for the estimated more than 30% of Americans that have metabolic syndrome (defined as when someone has 3 or more symptoms including abdominal obesity, elevated fasting blood glucose, high blood pressure or cholesterol). Taking steps towards eating more fruits and vegetables and becoming more physically active are two ways to prevent conditions like metabolic syndrome.

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