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article imageBlueberries can help reduce atherosclerosis, insulin resistance

By Jane Fazackarley     Oct 1, 2010 in Health
A preliminary study which has been carried out by the U.S Department of Agriculture(USDA) shows that blueberries can help reduce atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
The research was carried out using laboratory mice and showed that blueberries, which are know as a 'superfood' because of the antioxidants and flavonoids they contain, could help prevent the plaques and lesions which form in the arteries, a sign of atherosclerosis.
Experts from the Agricultural Research Service, the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Centre and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences led the research which has been published in this months issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States.
The research looked at the size of atherosclerotic lesions in 30 mice. Half of the rodents were fed with freeze-dried 1% blueberry powder, the equivalent of half a cup of fresh blueberries, for the twenty week trial, the other mice were not fed the powder.
Results showed that the lesion size reduced by up to 58% compared with the mice who hadn't been fed the blueberry powder.
They have been previous studies but this was the first to show direct evidence that blueberries might help in the fight against cardiovascular disease.
Further research will aim to find out how blueberries help to reduce the lesions and whether eating them from an early age and into young adulthood might protect against hardening of the arteries when people are older.
Another study featured in the Journal of Nutrition showed that blueberries could help increase insulin sensitivity, lessening a persons chances of developing diabetes.
The study involved non-diabetic, insulin-resistant people who were obese. The participants were given a blueberry smoothie everyday during the six week trial and a 22% change in insulin sensitivity was noted.
One of the researchers, Professor Cefalu said:
“The bioactives in blueberries enhanced insulin sensitivity independent of any changes in inflammatory biomarkers or adiposity."
“This study is not conclusive, but it strongly suggests a need to further explore the cellular mechanism for the effect."
“In addition, our study suggests the need for studies of longer duration that will evaluate blueberries and their potential role in improving insulin sensitivity in an insulin-resistant human population."
More about Atherosclerosis, Blueberries, Arteries, Insulin resistance
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