Eating one cup (150 g) of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, according to new research led by the University of East Anglia. The new findings suggest that eating 150 g of blueberries daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 per cent.
The team set out to see whether eating blueberries had any effect on metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that dramatically increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. A person is thought to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has a large waist circumference plus two or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (blood fat), high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood glucose and low HDL (good) cholesterol.
Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in phytochemicals called anthocyanins, antioxidants responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.
About the study
The researchers set out to determine whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The team investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people, aged between 50 and 75, with metabolic syndrome. The six-month study was the longest trial of its kind.
They looked at the benefits of eating 150 gram portions (one cup) compared to 75 gram portions (half a cup). The participants consumed the blueberries in freeze-dried form and a placebo group was given a purple-coloured alternative made of artificial colours and flavourings.
The findings: 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 per cent.
The researchers found no benefit of a smaller 75 gram (one-half cup) daily portion of blueberries in this at-risk group.
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