Scientists from the University of East Anglia found that eating blueberries regularly could strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome.
Blueberries are an incredible source of nutrients. They are high in antioxidants and may help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity.
Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, which are colored water-soluble pigments.
Anthocyanins responsible for the colors, red, purple, and blue, are in fruits and vegetables. Berries, currants, grapes, and some tropical fruits have high anthocyanins content.
Previous research has found that anthocyanin-rich blueberry intake is linked to lower type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.
In this study, the team examined the effect of 6-month blueberry intake on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic function in metabolic syndrome.
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from the blood for energy.
To make up for it, the pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, the blood sugar levels go up.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The team tested 115 overweight older people who ate 1/2 or 1 cup of blueberries every day and compared the results with people in a control group.
The team measured insulin resistance, heart health markers, and anthocyanin metabolism.
The researchers found that a daily intake of 1 cup of blueberries improved blood vessel function and arterial stiffness.
Arterial stiffness is a growing epidemic linked to an increased risk of heart disease events, dementia, and death.
The team also found In people who didn’t use statins, eating blueberries every day was linked to increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “good”) cholesterol.nIn addition, the levels of anthocyanin metabolites strongly increased.
The team also found a half cup per day had no effect on any biomarkers.
They concluded that although insulin resistance remained unchanged, people who ate blueberries daily showed sustained improvements in vascular function and cholesterol levels. This is equivalent to 12-15% reductions in heart disease risk.
The team suggests that blueberries should be included in dietary methods to reduce heart disease in people with a high risk.
One limitation of the study is that the majority of the participants were white men. This can make it difficult to generalize the results to women and other ethnicities. Future work could help solve the problem.
The research is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Peter Curtis et al.
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