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.
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.
“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).”
“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.
- 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.