Powerful Foods with Health Benefits
By Pamela Shenk, CHt
Assuming you read one thing about healthy foods this year, this should be it. Did you know that berries contain disease-fighting flavonoids that protect the heart? If you study the health secrets of berries, it’s easy to see why they can be considered some of the nutrient-rich natural foods on our planet.
A Nurses Health Study of women aged 25-42, ate strawberries or blueberries three times a week and were followed for 18 years. The study showed that they had a 34% reduced risk of heart attack compared to a lower intake of berries1. Eating one serving of blueberries per week decreased the risk of hypertension by 10%, according to a 2011 study. 2.3 So, you may wonder how do berries protect the heart and blood vessels. Studies using berries or berry phytochemicals in participating humans or on human cells have uncovered some protective actions of berries on the cardiovascular system. In human subject’s researchers found that berries mitigated oxidative stress, decreased oxidation of LDL (which helps to prevent the production of atherosclerotic plaque), increased blood antioxidant capacity, and in some cases improved lipid levels, blood pressure or blood glucose. Further research showed consuming more berries may curb inflammation.4-7
Berries deserve to be called a true miracle food. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Anyone interested in living a longer, healthier, and more energetic life should consider substituting berries for rich desserts like cake or ice cream. Remember you’ve achieved way too much to sabotage your efforts with unhealthy foods.
1. Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, et al: High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial. Circulation 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96.
2. Cassidy A, O'Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al: Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. Am J Clin Nutr2011, 93:338-347.
3. Bioactive Compounds in Berries Can Reduce High Blood Pressure. In ScienceDaily; 2011.
4. Galleano M, Pechanova O, Fraga CG: Hypertension, nitric oxide, oxidants, and dietary plant polyphenols. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 2010, 11:837-848.
5. Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ: Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev 2010, 68:168-177.
6. Chong MF, Macdonald R, Lovegrove JA: Fruit polyphenols and CVD risk: a review of human intervention studies. The British journal of nutrition 2010, 104 Suppl 3:S28-39.
7. Basu A, Du M, Leyva MJ, et al: Blueberries decrease cardiovascular risk factors in obese men and women with metabolic syndrome. J Nutr 2010, 140:1582-1587.