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Look out for purple, blue and red colours in your choice of fruit and vegetables!

Posted Jan 17 2013 10:04am

Research from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia published in the journal Circulation suggests that, “women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% lower rate in the risk of having a heart attackThe death of a section of heart muscle caused by an interruption in its blood supply. Also called a myocardial infarction. than the women who ate these berries once a month or less”.

The report focused on blueberries and strawberries as these are the most-eaten berries in the US. However, the suggestion is that the same findings may be true of other plant foods high in anthocyanins, such as grapes, blackberries and aubergine. Anthocyanin is a pigment that is responsible for the red, purple, and blue colours of many plants.

During the study period, there were 405 heart attacks among the participants. And when the results were analysed the researchers found the women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% lower rate in the risk of having a heart attack than the women who ate these berries once a month or less.

Perhaps of even greater significance the data remained the same even after taking into account other potential influencing factors like age, high blood pressureThe pressure of blood within the arteries., family history of heart attack, exercise, smoking, body mass, caffeine and alcohol intake. Even women who had a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables did not show this level of reduced risk.

Lead author Aedín Cassidy, Head of the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School within the UEA, says in a statement:

"We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits [strawberries and blueberries] may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life."

Senior author Eric Rimm, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, says, "This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts,".

The theory is that anthocyanins may help dilate arteries, preventing the build-up of the plaqueAny flat, raised patch; for example, a raised patch on the skin, fatty deposit in the inner wall of an artery, or layer over the surface of a tooth. that causes arteries to narrow as well as providing other cardiovascular benefits.

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