Fruits and vegetables — we all know we’re supposed to eat a ton of them and thus, lead healthier lives. But it turns out that not all of those nutritious goodies from nature were created equal, at least when it comes to warding off heart disease in women. A new study suggests that eating more blueberries and strawberries every week could cut the risk of heart attack.
Chowing down on three or more servings of the berries each week is the way to go, says an 18-year study dubbed Nurses’ Health Study II, says U.S. News & World Report’s HealthDay. Almost 94,000 young and middle-aged women participated in the study, answering questions about their diet every four years for the duration of the study.
Berries definitely came out looking not only tasty, but healthy:
During the study period, 405 participants had heart attacks. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack, compared to women who ate berries once a month or less. This held true even among women who ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.
There are a whole lot of other factors that could contribute and possibly negate any benefit from berries, points out the study’s findings. Those include advancing age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass index, exercise, smoking, and caffeine and alcohol intake.
So what is it about the berries that lowers the risk of heart attack? Researchers kind of don’t know, and they’re unsure if it’s a direct cause-and-effect situation. Both berries do contain a lot of compounds that could help widen arteries and thus battle plaque buildup, which can cause heart attacks.
“Berries were the most commonly consumed sources of these substances in the U.S. diet, and they are one of the best sources of these powerful bioactive compounds,” said the study’s lead author. “These substances, called anthocyanins — a flavonoid — are naturally present in red- and blue-colored fruits and vegetables, so they are also found in high amounts in cherries, grapes, eggplant, black currants, plums and other berries.”
If you’re feeling left out of the berrypalooza, guys, the berries probably do good things for you, too. This study just happened to only include women.
In any case, blueberries and strawberries are a lot tastier than other healthy foods we’ve been told to eat (spinach still triggers a childhood “do not want” reflex in me) so we’re onboard with the berry love.