Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by one-third – according to research from the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health.
The study was lead by Prof Aedín Cassidy – head of the Department of Nutrition at UEA. She said: “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life. This is the first study to look at the impact of diet in younger and middle-aged women.
“Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits, and our study shows that women who ate at least three servings per week had fewer heart attacks.”
“The findings were independent of other risk factors, such as age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake.
“Blueberries and strawberries were part of this analysis because they are the most-eaten berries in the United States. It is possible that other fruit and vegetables could produce the same results.”
Senior author and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, Eric Rimm, added: “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.”
Until more information about specific dietary constituents like flavonoids is available and fully understood, the American Heart Association recommends eating a balanced diet containing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to get the right amounts of nutrients.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Co-authors are Kenneth J. Mukamal M.D.; Lydia Liu M.Sc.; Mary Franz M.Sc.; A. Heather Eliassen Sc.D.; and Eric B. Rimm Sc.D.
Image credit: Main article and home page image Strawberries and Blueberries by Angelo DeSantis, redistributed under the Creative Commons Licence