Should You Choose Wild Berries or Cultivated Blueberries for Heart Health?
Researchers from the University of Maine, publishing in the journal, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism have found that a regular diet consisting of wild blueberries may help improve or prevent pathologies associated with the metabolic syndrome, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Blueberries are a rich source of phytochemicals called polyphenols, and have been reported in a growing number of prior studies to exert a wide array of protective health benefits, including lowering risk from Alzheimer’s disease and certain forms of cancer to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why Wild Blueberries and Not Conventionally Cultivated Blueberries?
Many people wrongly assume that because wild blueberries are so much smaller, their antioxidant content must be less than their larger, cultivated counterparts. On the contrary, wild blueberries can offer up to double the protection.
In the skin of all blueberries there is a highly concentrated supply of antioxidant phytochecmicals known as anthocyanins. Because so many more wild blueberries can fit into a standard serving size — up to double the number of blueberries, in fact — the nutrient density of a serving size can nearly double, as well. After all, twice the blueberry skin, twice the antioxidant protection.
Armed with this knowledge, researchers designed an experiment to see if wild blueberry consumption could positively influence the biomechanical properties of the aorta.
Anthocyanins from Blueberries Improves Arterial Elasticity to Lower Heart Disease Risk
Using a mouse model known to closely simulate metabolic syndrome in humans, the scientists fed the equivalent of two cups of wild blueberries per day for a period of eight weeks and found they were able to regulate and improve the balance between relaxing and constricting factors in the vascular wall, improving blood flow and blood pressure regulation of obese Zucker rats with metabolic syndrome.
Lead author, Dr. Klimis-Zacas commented, “We have previously documented the cardiovascular benefits of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry in a rat model with impaired vascular health and high blood pressure… our new findings show that these benefits extend to the obese Zucker rat, a widely used model resembling human MetS.” Statistics show that an estimated 37 percent of the US population is at risk for metabolic syndrome, and small changes to diet and physical activity can be sufficient to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Include One to Two Cups of Blueberries or Supplement to Benefit from Vascular Disease Risk Reduction
Dr. Klimis-Zacas concluded, “Our recent findings documented that wild blueberries reduce chronic inflammation and improve the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with the MetS.” This new study demonstrates even greater potential to show that “by normalizing oxidative, inflammatory response and endothelial function, regular long-term wild blueberry diets may also help improve pathologies associated with the MetS.” Many past research studies have shown that consuming one to two cups of blueberries several times per week, or supplementing with a standardized anthocyanin extract (400 mg daily) can significantly reduce the risks associated with developing diabetes and vascular disorders.
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John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource