During a recent road trip, I listened to a radio program about “eating the rainbow,” which means eating fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow.
So, to help pass the time, my passenger and I started listing fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow. (Luckily, we see lots of rainbows here in Florida, especially after our regular, seasonal rain storms.) But at first, nobody could come up with anything for blue.
Then I blurted out—blueberries, of course!
I actually write a lot about these little nutritional powerhouses. And most of the previously published research on blueberries has focused on their cognitive benefits. Specifically, on their long-term and short-term brain benefits.
But, as I’ve pointed out many times, a food or botanical that has one beneficial effect is bound to have many more.
Such is the case with blueberries…
Blueberries linked to improvements in cardiovascular health
Researchers recently combined the results of five new studies that found blueberries significantly improve cardiovascular health…
Of course, this additional benefit should come as no surprise, as blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that give berries their characteristic color. Anthocyanins also benefit the lining of your blood vessels and possibly prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
In one of the new studies, researchers assigned 40 healthy men with an average age of 34 years into one of two groups. The first group drank a freeze-dried, wild blueberry powder in water twice daily. The second group drank a placebo powder in water twice daily. Researchers calculated that the powdered drink was the equivalent of eating 100 grams (about one cup) of fresh blueberries twice a day.
It turns out, the men who drank the wild blueberry powder experienced an average drop in systolic blood pressure of 6 mmHg after 28 days, when compared to the control group. Researchers also found the blueberry extract worked as well as drugs to lower blood pressure.
And here’s where things got really interesting…
Researchers hone in on anthocyanins
The researchers also measured actual blood levels of anthocyanins at two different times: once immediately after the men consumed the blueberry powder for the first time and again after 28 days of consuming the blueberry powder in a twice-daily regimen.
(As I mentioned recently, real scientists are beginning to use this method to accurately measure dietary intake rather than flawed, sloppy food questionnaires, as I discussed yesterday.)
Then, the researchers measured blood flow through the participants’ arteries. It turns out, the men who consumed the blueberry powder experienced an immediate 1.5 percent improvement in blood flow. And after 28 days on the blueberry regimen, they experienced a 2.3 percent sustained improvement in blood flow.
This improvement might not sound like much—but it really is a big deal.
In fact, a previous meta-analysis found that for each 1 percent improvement in blood flow, there is a 10 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk. So, when we extrapolate those findings to the new study, it means that regularly consuming a moderate amount of blueberries (or blueberry extract) could decrease heart disease risk by nearly 23 percent.
It really does make sense that science would eventually show that blueberries benefit not only the brain…but also the heart…as both organs depend on blood flow.
Of course, many “Johnny-come-lately” doctors still tell you not to eat fruits because they contains “sugar.” (This advice illustrates profound nutritional ignorance.) And the pop “paleo” and “keto” diets continue to swear off fruit because, they ridiculously claim, “people in prehistoric times didn’t eat fruit.” (This advice shows profound anthropological and archaeological ignorance.)
So, in the end, continue doing what you’ve been doing all along…
Follow a balanced, healthy, Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of different fruits and vegetables. You can even call it, “eating the rainbow,” if that suits your style.
You can eat fresh blueberries every day or look for blueberry powdered extract as an ingredient in high-quality dietary supplements. For my personal recommendations, go to www.DrMicozzi.com and type “blueberries” in the search bar.
“Circulating anthocyanin metabolites mediate vascular benefits of blueberries: insights from randomized controlled trials, metabolomics, and nutrigenomics.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2019. doi.org: 10.1093/gerona/glz047