Study: Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors

For those who have a family history of heart disease or who struggle with weight issues, you may be interested to know that eating blueberries themselves can have potentially beneficial effects on your cardiovascular health.

Previous research studies suggest that consuming blueberries may exert protective effects on your brain and cognitive functioning.  Polyphenolic compounds which are found in berry fruits lower oxidative stress and inflammation–both considered important causes of brain aging.

The metabolic syndrome -

Metabolic syndrome results from a combination of abnormal adipose or fat tissue deposition as well as insulin resistance.  The metabolic syndrome often manifests itself with features including high blood pressure, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and cholesterol levels (LDL).  As well, it often includes high triglyercide levels as well as abdominal obesity.  Specific guidelines actually include these conditions in the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

Researchers from Oklahoma State University published the results of a recent study on the effects of blueberry consumption on metabolic syndrome risk factors in the Journal of Nutrition (Basu et al, 2010).

The study included 48 patients with the metabolic syndrome [4 males and 44 females; BMI: 37.8 +/- 2.3 kg/m(2); age: 50.0 +/- 3.0 y (mean +/- SE] who consumed a blueberry beverage daily for 8 weeks.

The blueberry beverage contained approximately 50 g of freeze-dried blueberries and 350 g of fresh blueberries.

Study results:

“The decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures were greater in the blueberry-supplemented group (- 6 and – 4%, respectively) than in controls (- 1.5 and – 1.2%) (P lt 0.05), whereas the serum glucose concentration and lipid profiles were not affected. The decreases in plasma oxidized LDL and serum malondialdehyde and hydroxynonenal concentrations were greater in the blueberry group (- 28 and – 17%, respectively) than in the control group (- 9 and – 9%) (P lt 0.01).”

Study Conclusions:

“Our study shows blueberries may improve selected features of metabolic syndrome and related cardiovascular risk factors at dietary achievable doses.”

What’s interesting from these results is that consuming a daily beverage containing a combination of freeze-dried and fresh blueberries for 8 weeks was effective for lowering blood pressure and plasma oxidized LDL cholesterol levels.  Plasma oxidized LDL cholesterol levels are considered a risk market for cardiovascular disease while malodialdehyde and hydroxynonenal are measures of oxidative stress (that’s bad).

Depending on the time of year or where you live, fresh blueberries are not considered inexpensive. However, compared to the enormous cost of prescription medication, eating more blueberries could be considered an investment in your future health.

Reference:

  1. Basu A, Du M, Leyva MJ, Sanchez K, Betts NM, Wu M, Aston CE, Lyons TJ. Blueberries decrease cardiovascular risk factors in obese men and women with metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2010 Sep;140(9):1582-7. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

9 thoughts on “Study: Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors

  1. Thanks Dr. Morrow for helping to bring the idea of oxidized LDL, or atherogenic LDL, to the general public’s attention. My company, Mercodia, is the company responsible for the development of this test and supplied the materials for the blueberry study. We recently worked with the FDA to gain exemption status on this test, which means clinicians can request this test at their local reference laboratory. There are only a few running the test today, but the more awareness we create the more likely it is that larger laboratories like Quest or Labcorp will offer this to all patients. What we know to be true today is that at least 50% more people at risk for cardiovascular events can be identified with oxidized LDL versus general LDL analysis alone.

  2. With berries (especially blueberries), I’ve always wondered about choosing fresh vs fresh frozen. Is there anything like a reduced nutritional potency in the fresh frozen blueberries?

    As a side note, I’m a HUGE fan of Grape Seed Extract for an antioxidant, and it’s amazing what it can do to restore a real youthful quality to your skin.

    Thanks
    Steve

  3. Thank you for widening my knowledge on metabolic syndrome. Investing on fruits rich in antioxidant like blueberries can save you from possible cognitive degeneration in your later years, so start including this in your diet as early as now.

    1. Joel, it’s important for all of us to evaluate our diets and try to focus on prevention. Blueberries are a personal favorite of mine for several reasons. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Thanks for such a great article. Glad you explained why blueberries are so important for your health.

  5. I lived in Oregon for years growing my own organic blueberry plants, and when we moved I was very disappointed with the story bought varieties. I always wonder if the pesticides, and other soil contaminants negate some of the positive health benefits?

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