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Berries: improve cholesterol, blood pressure and heart health

Berries

A new study from Finland suggests that a diet rich in berries may boost levels of good cholesterol and improve blood pressure and therefore indicating benefit for heart health too.

Consumption of bilberries, lingonberries, black currants and strawberries led to a reduction in blood pressure as well as an increase in good cholesterol (HDL).

The study involved the use of different berries, so as to maximise the intake and availability of different polyphenols.

Numerous studies have expounded upon the benefits of berry consumption, some of which include lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and protecting against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The study recruited 72 middle-aged subjects (average age: 58 years -men, 46 years -women) and randomly assigned them to consume a moderate amount of berries or control products for eight weeks.

The berry group consumed 100 grams of whole bilberries and 50 grams of a lingonberry-rich nectar every other day. In addition, they consumed 100grams of purée of blackcurrants or strawberries and a juice of raspberry and chokeberry on the other days. Meanwhile, the control group received one of four different products, including sugar-water, sweet rice porridge, marmalade sweets, or sweet semolina porridge.

At the end of the two month period, levels of HDL-cholesterol rose significantly by 5.2 per cent in the berry group, compared to a 0.6 per cent increase in the control group. Total cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels were not altered, however.

In addition to improvements in blood pressure, the researchers note that consumption of the berry-rich diet was associated with an 11 per cent inhibition of platelet function, compared to a 1.4 per cent augmentation in the control group, as measured with a platelet function analyser.

It’s berry interesting huh?

Source:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
February 2008, Volume 87, Number 2, Pages 323-331
“Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol”
Authors: I. Erlund, R. Koli, G. Alfthan, J. Marniemi, P. Puukka, P. Mustonen, P. Mattila, A. Jula.

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