Research published this month in the June issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that participants suffering from metabolic syndrome improved arterial function and their cholesterol levels after eating the equivalent of one cup of blueberries a day for six months. The United States Highbush Blueberry Council funded the study, and it was conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and scientists from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health,” co-lead study author Dr. Peter Curtis told Medical News Today
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Do the results only apply to those with metabolic syndrome
In short no.
In fact, as is explained in greater detail below, members of the general population would actually require a much lower quantity of blueberries to reap the health benefits, though metabolic syndrome isn’t exactly a rare condition in America.
About one-third of U.S adults live with the disease. Outside of an enlarged waistline, symptoms are often caused by other diseases associated with the disorder as opposed to the disorder itself. For instance, because patients with metabolic syndrome tend to have high blood pressure, it is not uncommon for symptoms of diabetes to appear, like frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. The syndrome is more accurately defined as a collection of various conditions linked to poor heart health. The condition cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be effectively mitigated by drastic lifestyle changes.
Enter lead researcher Prof. Aedin Cassidy. She and her team were inspired by independent research conducted in the past, that showcased how the consumption of blueberries significantly reduced participant’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These results seemed to derive from the flavonoid called Anthocyanins prominent in blueberries. When the lower intestine metabolizes anthocyanins chemicals that promote helpful gut bacteria are released. Even though studies have successfully linked the chemical to reduced mortality risk, and reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, these reports only tracked respondents over a relatively short period of time.
“We wanted to find out whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing these sort of conditions,” Cassidy told Medical News Today
The researchers began with a sample of 115 obese and overweight participants with metabolic syndrome, between the ages of 50 and 75. Cassidy examined the patients for 26 weeks, (which is longer than any study of this kind to date) and then segmented them into three groups. One group ate one cup of freeze-dried powdered blueberries a day. Another group, consumed half a cup of freeze-dried powdered blueberries per day, and the last group, which was the control group, consumed what only looked like a blueberry powder but was actually a combination of dextrose, maltodextrin, and fructose. The researchers periodically surveyed biomarkers for insulin resistance, vascular functions, and lipid status, concluding the following in the report released this month:
“We found that 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%.”
Even if you do not suffer from metabolic syndrome, you might want to consider adopting the perennial flowering plants into your daily regimen. The super fruit is super low in calories (85 calories per cup) but packed with important nutrients, they reduce DNA damage, which in turn slow the physical effects of the aging process. They’re rich in anti-oxidants and even reduce muscle damage after strenuous exercise.
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