A recent article in the mirror has reported on as study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on how blueberries could help prevent heart disease in postmenopausal women.
Blueberries are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, fibre, manganese and other antioxidants (notably anthocyanins).
Women who go through menopause at greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term that describes a disease of the heart or blood vessels. Is a major health concern, killing at least 160,000 people in 2011 according to the NHS. Once women go through menopause, this puts them at an even greater risk of developing the disease.
Most deaths caused by CVD could have been prevented
Most deaths caused by cardiovascular disease are premature and could easily be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and stopping smoking.
Researchers at Florida University claims that "..regular consumption of blueberries could potentially delay the progression of prehypertension to hypertension, therefore reducing cardiovascular risk."
Research claims blueberries lower risk in postmenopausal women
Dr Sarah Johnson believes blueberries to be a 'functional food' - a term used to classify foods that have a positive impact on health beyond basic nutrition that can prevent and reverse negative health outcomes. She believes her research proves that blueberries could help mitigate the increased risk postmenopausal women have of developing CVD, saying: “Our findings suggest that the addition of a single food, blueberries, to the diet may mitigate the negative cardiovascular effects that often occur as a result of menopause.”
The research was conducted over an 8 week period on 48 menopausal women with 'pre-hypertension' and 'stage-1' hypertension. They were randomly assigned to either receive a daily dose of 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry power (equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries) or 22 grams of a placebo. Participants continued their normal diet and exercise routines over the 8 week trial.
Study saw reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
The participants' blood pressure and arterial stiffness was measured at the start and at the end of the 8 week period, people receiving the blueberry power on average had a 5.1% decrease in systolic blood pressure (top number) and a 6.3% reduction is diastolic blood pressure (bottom number). Arterial stiffness was also reduced by 6.5%. Furthermore, there was a 68.5% increase in a biomarker known to be involved in the widening of blood vessels which also helps to explain the reduction in blood pressure. A biomarker is a term used to describe any of the body's molecules that can be used to assess health.