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Berries for Your Heart



StrawberriesI've written before about the heart-healthy effects of polyphenols, the flavonoids found in large quantities in cocoa (Bite, 04/10/07), tea (09/15/06), and wine (11/21/07). Researchers in Finland noted that berries, such as strawberries, also are high in polyphenols. Could eating berries regularly have similar positive effects on heart health?

To find out, the scientists recruited seventy-two men and women of normal weight who had at least one of the following conditions: mild high blood pressure, slightly raised blood sugar levels, high total cholesterol or triglycerides, or low HDL cholesterol. They were then randomly assigned to either the berry group or the control group. The berry group ate two portions of berries each day for eight weeks, while the control group ate similar amounts of control products such as marmalade or a sweetened cereal product.

After the eight weeks, the subjects' blood pressure and cholesterol scores were compared to their scores at the beginning of the study. Interestingly, while the subjects' blood pressure improved only slightly, their HDL cholesterol levels increased by 5% (Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87(2):323-31).

Strawberries with Whipped CreamWhat this means for you

Add berries to the list of delicious things that are good for you. One of my favorite desserts is a bowl of sliced strawberries with Reddi Wip Fat Free whipped cream. A cup of strawberries is about 50 calories and an ounce of the topping is about 40 (and that's a lot of topping!). That's only 90 calories for a satisfying dessert and a big hit of polyphenols. Have some tonight!

First posted: March 26, 2008