Berries Good for the Heart
Eating Moderate Amounts of Berries Every Day May Lower Blood Pressure and Raise Good Cholesterol, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 15, 2008 -- Eating berries may boost heart health.
So says a study backing up berries' status as a super food. The small
Finnish study suggests that eating a moderate amount of berries may increase
HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
For the study, researchers recruited 72 middle-aged men and women with some
risk factors for heart disease -- including mild hypertension (high blood pressure), elevated LDL (bad)
cholesterol levels, and low HDL cholesterol.
Half of the volunteers ate two portions, totaling about 150 grams, of
berries every day for eight weeks. The volunteers ate an assortment of berries
either whole, pureed, or in juice form, including bilberries, lingonberries,
black currants, strawberries, chokeberries, and raspberries.
After eight weeks, HDL cholesterol levels of the berry eaters increased an
average of 5.2%. Systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure
reading) decreased by an average of 1.5 points, but the greatest decrease was
seen in those with the highest blood pressures initially. There was no
change in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). It did not affect body
Berries: Packed With Polyphenols
Fruits and vegetables are high
in antioxidants, but berries contain particularly high levels of antioxidants
known as polyphenols. The researchers estimate that the berry eaters in the
study consumed about three times the amount of polyphenols as the nonberry
eaters and had higher levels of polyphenols in their blood.
Other polyphenol-rich foods include chocolate, tea, and red wine, which also
have been linked to lower heart disease risk.
The findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of