Blueberries Pack A Preventive Punch Against Diabetes and Heart Disease
In the fight against metabolic syndrome (MetS), type 2 diabetes and heart disease, we mere humans can turn to a mighty superhero for help: wild blueberries.
This is excellent news since approximately 37 percent of people in the U.S. are at risk for MetS, a precursor for health problems such as diabetes and heart trouble.
MetS and Blueberries
Risk factors for MetS include high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose. These risks can be reduced by changes in diet such as eliminating refined foods and hydrogenated fats, and eating more lean proteins, monounsaturated fats and superfoods like wild blueberries.
Blueberries wield the weapon of polyphenols called anthocyanins – plant chemicals that provide a protective array of health benefits, such as lowering our risk for Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancer. Researchers at the University of Maine confirmed that regular consumption of wild blueberries may prevent or improve MetS associated pathologies, including diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.
The Blueberry Research
Obese rats with metabolic syndrome – known to closely mimic MetS in humans – were fed the equivalent of two cups of wild blueberries each day for eight weeks. This enhanced the rats' blood pressure and circulation as the balance between constricting and relaxing elements in their blood vessel walls improved.
Said researcher Dr. Klimis-Zaca:
Our recent findings documented that wild blueberries reduce chronic inflammation and improve the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with the MetS ... by normalizing oxidative, inflammatory response and endothelial [blood vessel] function, regular long-term wild blueberry diets may also help improve pathologies [diseases] associated with the MetS.
This research validates previous studies that revealed eating one or two cups of blueberries a few times per week can significantly lower the risks related to developing vascular problems or diabetes. An alternative to consuming so many blueberries is supplementing the diet with a standardized anthocyanin extract, about 400 mg per day.
Smoothies are a delicious way to sneak blueberries to your diet.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk or skim milk
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 cup ice cubes
Put all ingredients into a blender. Puree until smooth.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutrition: 225 calories; 0 g sat fat; 8 g total fat; 11.4 g protein; 31 g carb; 34 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 97 mg calcium.