You can count on a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables to be “true blue” friends for your health. One fruit in particular, blueberries, has recently been shown to be considerably helpful for your heart. Two recently published studies have indicated that an active antioxidant compound in blueberries, pterostilbene, can lower your blood pressure and help your heart.
Blueberries have been championed for their high antioxidant potential and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re only 80 calories a cup and are high in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. Native Americans have used blueberries for centuries. They even used the roots and leaves from the blueberry plant to help women relax during childbirth. This study adds to the list of reasons for adding a handful of blueberries to your morning oatmeal.
The blood pressure relief comes from pterostilbene, a compound found in both grapes and blueberries. This antioxidant is chemically related to reservatrol, another heart-healthy compound that is found in the skin of grapes. Various studies have shown pterostilbene to have possible anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.
The first group of researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center did a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. They administered different doses of pterostilbene extract to the study participants, as much as 125 mg twice daily. They found a reduction in the systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) number in the participants’ blood pressure.
However, one complication involved an increase in LDL, or lousy cholesterol; however, this increase wasn’t seen in those who were already taking cholesterol medication. Furthermore, taking the extract with an additional grape extract (that would contain reservatrol) appeared to alleviate the problem and stabilize the cholesterol levels in otherwise healthy individuals. The researchers have yet to indicate why this happened. This finding comes as a surprise because multiple studies have suggested that pterostilbene reduces cholesterol by activating enzymes that remove cholesterol. This shows that more research needs to be done to prove these benefits.
Although individual blueberries have a small amount of pterostilbene, you still may benefit from eating the fruit itself. Another study found that eating at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week can reduce the risk of heart attack in women. The researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II. After reviewing the diets of over 93,000 women, they found that those who ate the most blueberries were 32% less likely to suffer an early heart attack – even compared to those who had diets rich in other fruits and vegetables.
Try incorporating more blueberries into your diet. You can just throw in some fresh blueberries into your morning cereal or oatmeal, or you can try our delicious gluten-free blueberry walnut scones or an amazing wild blueberry salsa. You can also fire up the blender and create this fat-shredding blueberry-pear smoothie.