Blueberries may be good for the heart, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that included 115 overweight or obese adults, ages 50 to 75, at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
One third were randomly assigned to eat the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries in freeze-dried form daily for six months, while another third ate a half-cup equivalent; the rest consumed a placebo powder that looked and tasted similar. Participants with the higher blueberry intake showed improvements in vascular functioning and, especially in people not taking a statin, in HDL cholesterol. Contrary to expectations and some prior observational studies, however, no improvements were seen in insulin resistance or blood pressure.
Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, the compounds that give them their deep color and have antioxidant, vasodilatory, anti-inflammatory, and other potential health-promoting properties. The study was supported by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, an agriculture promotion group with USDA oversight; it did not include other berries, which may have similar benefits.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.