Aug. 23, 2004 -- Blueberries contain a powerful cholesterol- and fat-fighting compound, USDA researchers report.
You already know blueberries are good for you. They're already touted as antioxidant-rich fruits that protect against the ravages of aging, heart disease, and cancer. Now add potential cholesterol-fighting effects to the list of blueberry benefits, suggests Agnes M. Rimando, PhD, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Products Utilization Research Center in Oxford, Miss.
Rimando and colleagues tested a compound found in blueberries, pterostilbene, for its ability to turn on a switch in cells that breaks down fat and cholesterol. They reported their findings at this week's 228th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.
Pterostilbene -- the fat-fighting compound in blueberries -- has been found to have cancer-fighting and diabetes-fighting properties. It's similar to resveratrol, which is found in grapes. That's one reason why moderate amounts of red wine are good for you. Rimando and colleagues report that the blueberry compound may be even more potent than the red-wine compound.
In their laboratory studies, Rimando's team used rat liver cells. Since there were no human tests -- or even animal studies -- there's no way to say how many blueberries humans have to eat to cut their cholesterol.
But the experiments showed that the blueberry compound worked better than ciprofibrate, a drug used outside the U.S. to lower blood fats and cholesterol.