According to a new British study conducted at the University of East Anglia, eating 150 grams of blueberries a day could reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
The research, which received funding from the US Highbush Blueberry Council and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sought to determine whether eating blueberries had an effect on Metabolic Syndrome, a set of metabolic problems that increase the risk of heart disease, manifesting most often as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of "good cholesterol" and high levels of triglycerides.
According to a statement by the researchers, "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 color in fruits."
Over the course of six months, the researchers studied the effects of eating blueberries every day in 138 overweight and obese sufferers of Metabolic Syndrome, between the ages of 50 and 75.
The experiment compared the advantages of eating 150-gram portions of blueberries daily versus 75-gram portions. Participants ate freeze-dried blueberries, while a placebo group was given a purple-colored alternative made from food coloring and artificial flavors.
A 15% reduction in risk
"We 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 percent," noted study co-author Dr Peter Curtis.
He added: "Unexpectedly, we found no benefit of a smaller 75 gram (half cup) daily intake of blueberries in this at-risk group. It is possible that higher daily intakes may be needed for heart health benefits in obese, at-risk populations, compared with the general population."