Berry good for hearts

Berries are a delightful food but unlike some other foods that taste delicious they are also good for you. The pigments that give these berries their colour are also health promoting. Strawberries have been shown to keep the brain young and to protect against ultraviolet radiation. Blueberries are good for memory and their cousin, the European Bilberry, has a proven record in improving night vision. Now a new study has shown that both of these berries can reduce your risk of heart attack.

The study comes from the Harvard School of Public Health and involved analysis of data on 93,600 women aged 25 to 42 who were followed for 18 years. The women all completed questionnaires about lifestyle factors including food consumption throughout the course of the study.

When they tallied the dietary information against the heart attacks that occurred during the study the researchers found that women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 per cent lower risk of heart attack than those who ate berries once a month or less.

This relationship between berry consumption and reduced heart attack risk existed even after taking into account other risk factors like exercise, smoking, caffeine, and alcohol. The other interesting fact was that even for women in their 20s and 30s this protective effect existed.

One additional fact was that other flavonoid rich foods did not yield the same benefits as strawberries and blueberries. So it must be something about the anthocyanins in these berries and their capacity to open up arteries and prevent fatty deposits that is uniquely beneficial.

One quick word of caution should be added if you are thinking of increasing your strawberry intake. Strawberries are part of the “Dirty Dozen”, the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. The difference between organic and commercially grown strawberries is quite significant. Studies have shown that organic strawberries have higher levels of vitamin C and also antioxidant polyphenols than non-organic strawberries. So go organic with those strawberries, and partner them with blueberries for some very healthy heart outcomes.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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