Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Strawberry and Blueberry Flavonoids Cut Heart Attack Risk in Women by One-Third

Thousands of research studies over the past decade have heralded the critical importance of eating a diet filled with flavonoids from a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits to help prevent and even treat many chronic illnesses. Most plants and fruits rely on flavonoid compounds for protection against the environment and to propagate and flourish. These same properties support human health by altering genetic expression and specifically targeting essential metabolic processes to ward off diseases such as cancer, dementia and the most prevalent killer of men and women, cardiovascular disease.

Anthocyanins from Eating Berries Dramatically Lowers Heart Attack Risk in a Large Sampling of Women
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health developed a study to analyze a specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, that has been shown to help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits. Publishing in the journal Circulation, the scientists found that women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had significantly fewer heart attacks. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of anthocyanins that have shown cardiovascular benefits in past research studies.

Lead study author, Dr. Eric Rimm noted “Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week… this simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts." The researchers developed a cohort of 93,600 women nurses, aged between 25 and 42 who completed dietary questionnaires every four years for a period of 18 years.

Eat Three to Five Servings of Fresh Mixed Berries Each Week to Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Over the course of the study review period, 405 women experienced a heart attack. The study team found that women who consumed the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32-percent reduction in their risk of heart attack as compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less. Interestingly, the results did not change in women who otherwise ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables, providing solid proof that the flavonoids provided by the berries were responsible for the heart attack risk reduction benefits.

The study authors concluded “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life.” The study results were independent of other risk factors, such as age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake. While this study was conducting using a large sampling of women, eating between 3 and 5 servings of fresh berries each week can dramatically lower heart attack risk for men and women alike.

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