(Natural News) Long considered one of the best superfoods on the planet, blueberries have been found to have another ability up its antioxidant-rich sleeve: the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease.
In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that daily consumption of one cup of blueberries for six months improves arterial function and cholesterol levels in adults with metabolic syndrome.
The study, conducted by researchers from the U.K. and the U.S., involved 138 overweight and obsese adults aged 50 and older. The subjects all had metabolic syndrome, a cluster of condtions that includes high blood pressure, high triglycerides and high blood sugar, and raises the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
For the double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study, the researchers randomly assigned the subjects into three groups: One group consumed one cup (150 grams) of blueberries daily. Another consumed the equivalent of half-a-cup (75 grams) of blueberries daily, while the last group consumed a placebo. Unsurprisingly, the group that consumed the greater amount of blueberries received the most number of improvements.
“Our test showed that 1 cup of blueberries per day for six months generally improved the vascular environment by increasing the responsiveness of arteries to [produce] changes in blood flow, improving the flexibility of systemic arteries, and at the same time, increasing the concentration of good lipids and lipoproteins, like HDL, which removes potentially harmful fats from the bloodstream and arteries,” lead study author Peter Curtis said.
The results also suggest that these sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness made enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 12 to 15 percent.
Aedin Cassidy, a professor of nutrition at the University of East Anglia and senior author of the study, said in a statement on NYTimes.com that the results of their research affirms those of previous studies which state that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cassidy attributed this marked improvement to the anthocyanin flavonoids and fiber present in blueberries.
Blueberries may be as effective as prescription blood pressure medication
A similar study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A earlier this year corroborates the findings.
The study, which saw 40 healthy volunteers consume either a drink containing 200 grams of blueberries or a matched control drink daily over the course of one month, found that those who consumed the blueberry drinks had reduced blood pressure and improved blood vessel functions.
Christian Heiss, senior author of the study and a professor at the University of Surrey, said the improvements are directly linked to the berries’ anthocyanins.
“Effects on blood vessel function were seen two hours after consumption of the blueberry drinks and were sustained for one month even after an overnight fast,” Heiss and his colleagues said, noting that the reduction in blood pressure is similar to what is reported by other studies which use blood pressure-lowering medications currently available to the public. (Related: Blueberries found to reduce CVD risk by up to 20 percent.)
How to make a blueberry smoothie breakfast bowl
Want to boost your daily blueberry fix? Here’s a quick breakfast bowl recipe you can try:
- 2 cups frozen, organic blueberries
- 1/2 cup crushed ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1 banana
- Organic maple syrup, to taste
- Toppings: dried organic blueberries, toasted coconut flakes, dried strawberries, hemp seeds
- Blend all ingredients (except toppings) until thick.
- Divide equally into two bowls.
- Sprinkle toppings and add maple syrup to taste.
Enjoy the nutritious and heart-friendly goodness of blueberries by adding them to your baked goods and desserts or by snacking on them between meals.