Strawberries and blueberries may help cut heart risk in women

Strawberries and blueberries are colorful and tasty and good for you, because they have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities but they also help reduce cardiovascular risks in women, especially if you up the number of servings per week, according to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

Eating strawberries and blueberries three or more times a week may help women cut their risk of a heart attack by 32%, according to the research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The research study surveyed 93,600 women, from the ages 25 to 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II.

The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years (there were only 405 documented cases of heart attacks) and those women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries reduced their risk of heart attacks by one third, even compared to women who otherwise ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.

The colorful berries contain high levels of flavonoids and sub-class of these flavonoids, known as anthocyanins, that in previous studies have shown to help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque, which is the leading cause of atherosclerosis.

Senior author and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiologyat the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and lead study author, Dr. Eric Rimm said, "Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week... this simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts" and “since these dietary flavonoids are very common in fruit and vegetables, it is likely that other foods will yield similar health benefits.”.

The findings were independent of risk factors such as age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, weight, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake.

"We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life," also added Professor Aedín Cassidy, co-author of the study.

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