Berries for a healthy heart

Strawberries and blueberries are the two most commonly consumed berries in the United States, which is why they became the focus of a recent study to test whether they could positively impact women’s heart health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, young women who eat at least three servings of strawberries or blueberries each week may be able to reduce their risk of serious heart complications by one-third.

Along with blackberries, grapes and eggplant, blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce inflammationand reduce the build-up of harmful plaque.

Even after researchers adjusted for age, high blood pressure, family history and a several other factors, the cardiovascular benefit remained.Dietary flavonoids called anthocyanins give blueberries and strawberries their distinct colors, and scientists now believe these could also benefit the heart.

“This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts,” Eric Rimm, M.D., coauthor and professor at Harvard School of Public Health, told the L.A. Times. Rimm and coauthors also believe that this berry benefit is greater when berries are consumed earlier in life, so that consuming this fruit at an early age might improve heart health later in life as well.

Berries are a powerhouse
Not only do these berries contain antioxidant flavonoids, but they also have salicylic acid, which some believe may act similar to aspirin in warding off heart disease. According to the Berry Benefit Network (BBN), 100 grams of raspberries contains almost 5 milligrams of salicylic acid.

Many berries are also high in vitamin C, which functions as an antioxidant in the body. The National Institute of Health says that vitamin is vital in for formation of important proteins and is required for proper tissue repair and growth. As well as helping us to recover more quickly from illness, it’s also good for bone and joint health.

BBN reports that red raspberries contain high levels of gallic acid, which may improve circulation. They have also been sought after for thousands of years for their oil, which is rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids and can even be used as a sunscreen (SPF 25-50). Red raspberry ketones are also taken for weight loss.