The latest research, published in the American Heart Assn.’s journal, Circulation, comes from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a comprehensive study involving, about 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 who answered detailed surveys about their diets every four years for 18 years.
Younger women who ate at least three servings per week of strawberries or blueberries reduced their likelihood of suffering a heart attack by one-third contrasted with the women who incorporated fewer of the colorful berries into their diet, a new study says.
The berry benefit was sufficiently strong that it held even after researchers adjusted for age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body-mass index, exercise, smoking, and caffeine or alcohol intake. Researchers suggested that a group of dietary flavenoids called anthocyanins, which give blueberries and strawberries their jewel-like colors, may be responsible for the health benefits seen in the study’s large sample of subjects.
Anthocyanins are known to dilate arteries and counter the buildup of plaque that causes atherosclerosis.
“This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts,” said Dr. Eric Rimm, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and senior author of the paper. Rimm and his coauthors surmised that if berry consumption showed such measurable health effects early in life, its benefits were likely to show up later as well, when women’s heart attack rate more closely approximates that of men.
High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged WomenAedín Cassidy, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Lydia Liu, Mary Franz, A. Heather Eliassen,Eric B. Rimm, Circulation. 2013; 127: 188-196