Washington DC: Adding a cup of blueberries to your diet can be good for your heart, recent findings suggest.
According to the study, eating a cup of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Speaking about the findings, the team of researchers suggested that blueberries and other berries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease -particularly among at-risk groups.
The team set out to see whether eating blueberries had any effect on Metabolic Syndrome - a condition, affecting 1/3 of westernised adults, which comprises at least three of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of 'good cholesterol' and high levels of triglycerides.
"Having Metabolic syndrome significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and often statins and other medications are prescribed to help control this risk. It's widely recognised that lifestyle changes, including making simple changes to food choices, can also help," said lead researcher Aedin Cassidy, professor at the University of East Anglia.
Findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.
The team investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people, aged between 50 and 75, with Metabolic Syndrome. The six-month study was the longest trial of its kind.
They looked at the benefits of eating 150-gram portions (one cup) compared to 75-gram portions (half a cup). The participants consumed the blueberries in freeze-dried form and a placebo group was given a purple-coloured alternative made of artificial colours and flavourings.
The researchers found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness - making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 per cent.