Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries a week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack, according to research from the University of East Anglia, in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health. The berries contain high levels of powerful flavonoids called anthocyanins, which may help dilate arteries, counter buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits.
Published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the study involved 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 that completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for over 16 years. Those that ate the most berries had a 32 percent reduction in heart attack risk compared with those that ate them once a month or less, even if they ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.
“This is the first study to look at the impact of diet in younger and middleaged women,” remarks the study’s lead author, Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., head of the university’s nutrition department. “Even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life.”