Just in time for summer! New research shows that blueberries are even better for us than we once thought — especially for folks at risk of heart disease. The key is making sure you eat enough of these tiny fruits each day.
The May 2019 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating one cup of blueberries per day reduces the risk of heart disease by up to 15 percent. Researchers investigated the effects of daily blueberry consumption in 138 overweight and obese people for six months. In the longest study of its kind, researchers compared the benefits of eating one cup of blueberries versus just 1/2 cup. Participants consumed these blueberries in a freeze-dried form, while a placebo group was given a purple-colored alternative made of artificial flavors.
"We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness — making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 per cent," said co-lead researcher Peter Curtis, PhD, in a press release. "The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health."
If you're planning on eating more blueberries for heart health, it's super important to reach that recommended one cup. As Dr. Curtis explains: "Unexpectedly, we found no benefit of a smaller 75 gram (half cup) daily intake of blueberries in this at-risk group. It is possible that higher daily intakes may be needed for heart health benefits in obese, at-risk populations, compared with the general population."
Experts think blueberries are so helpful for heart health because of their naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins. Interestingly enough, these compounds are what gives the fruit its signature blue color. Doesn't this just make you see the phrase "feeling blue" in a whole new light?