Eat Berries for a Healthy Heart
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has discovered that eating a diet rich in berries may help to keep your heart healthy by lowering blood pressure and increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.
Researchers from Finland recruited 72 adults and divided them into two groups. One group acted as controls, whilst the other group had berries added to their diet.
The berry-eating group alternated between the types of berries they ate each day. One day they ate 100g of bilberries and 50g of lingonberry nectar – a popular berry found in Scandinavia. Then the next day they would have 100g of blackcurrant or strawberry puree and a juice of raspberry or chokeberry. They followed this plan for eight weeks.
At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers discovered that compared to the control group, levels of ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol had risen by around five percent in those adults who had eaten berries every day.
Systolic blood pressure and the activity of blood clotting cells called platelets also dropped in the berry eaters, both important for a healthy heart.
The authors suggest these findings may help to explain why diets rich in fruit and veg keep the heart healthy but say more research is now needed to discover the quantity of berries that are needed to offer protection.
WLR’s Dietitian says:
This research adds to a wealth of other studies that show fruit is an important component of a healthy diet.
It’s thought that berries are particularly good for heart health because they contain high levels of vitamin C and naturally occurring antioxidants called polyphenols.
Previous studies have found that eating more foods rich in polyphenols such as cocoa, tea and red wine may help to keep the heart healthy, but less research has been carried out specifically looking at berries.
It’s worth bearing in mind this was only a small study with fewer than 100 people taking part. Plus, the participants ate or drank relatively large amounts of berries every day – not something that most of us currently do. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
Why Not Add More Berries to Your Diet?
Eating more berries certainly won’t do most people any harm. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are low in fat, high in fibre and an 80g serving counts as one serving of our 5-a-day.
Best of all, eating berries can help to satisfy a sweet tooth without all the calories of sugary snacks such as chocolate, biscuits and cakes.
Calories in Berries
|Berries||Serving and Calories|
|Strawberries, Fresh, Raw, Average||1 serving/80g = 22.1kcals|
|Blackberries, Fresh, Raw, Average||1 serving/80g = 23.6kcals|
|Raspberries, Fresh, Raw, Average||1 serving/80g = 21kcals|
You can track your fruit and veg intake to see how healthy your diet is using the food diary and database tools in Weight Loss Resources. Try it Free for 24 hours.
Blood Pressure UK
Blood Pressure UK, previously known as the Blood Pressure Association, is the UK charity dedicated to lowering the nation's blood pressure.
British Heart Foundation
For more than 40 years, the BHF has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease - www.bhf.org.uk