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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Daily blueberries cuts heart disease risk

New research shows one cup of blueberries each day can greatly improve heart function in at risk groups

Daily blueberries cuts heart disease risk

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Eating one cup of blueberries a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 15 per cent according to new research.

Scientists at UEA’s Department of Nutrition and Preventative Medicine found 150g of blueberries consumed each day reduced arterial stiffness and improved vascular function in participants tested.

The team say their findings should make blueberries and berries an essential part of dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly for at risk groups.

Co-lead of the study, Dr Peter Curtis, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: “We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness – making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 per cent.

“The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health.”

Curtis’ study set out to examine the effect of blueberries on Metabolic Syndrome, a condition which affects a third of adults in the west, which can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and low levels of “good cholesterol”.

They investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people aged between 50 and 75, with Metabolic Syndrome. The six-month study was the largest of its kind.

Their findings were based after giving participants 150 gram portions (one cup) compared to 75 gram portions (half a cup). The subjects consumed the blueberires in freeze-dried form while a placebo group was given a purple coloured alternative made of artificial colours and flavourings.

Curtis added that they were surprised to find that 75 grams a day did not produce a meaningful benefit, meaning that higher daily intakes are required for at risk groups, compared with the general population.

Lead researcher Prof Aedin Cassidy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Having Metabolic syndrome significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and often statins and other medications are prescribed to help control this risk.

“It’s widely recognised that lifestyle changes, including making simple changes to food choices, can also help.

“Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.

“We wanted to find out whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing these sort of conditions.”

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