15 January 2013

AHA Study Shows Eating Flavonoid Rich Berries Reduce Heart Attack Risk in Women by 30%

A study released by the American Heart Association shows that women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week reduce their risk of a heart attack by 30%.

Flavonoids are organic chemicals that are found in plants. These nutrients have beneficial effects on the human body. Chemicals that are found naturally in plants are called phytochemicals.

Berries, tea, apples, soy food, and red wine are some of the food that are rich in flavonoids.

The Zutphen Elderly Study, the Seven Countries Study and a cohort study in Finland show that consuming flavonoid has an inverse effect with coronary disease. Results of the study show that people who consumed about five to six cups of flavonoid-rich tea per day had a lower death rate from heart disease than people with a low intake of flavonoids.

The link between flavonoids and coronary heart disease like atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fat deposits in the arteries), may be due to the antioxidant properties of flavonoids. Flavonoids also have been shown to inhibit the aggregation and adhesion of platelets in blood, which may be another way they lower the risk of heart disease. Soy foods which contains isoflavones (a major flavonoid category) have been reported to lower plasma cholesterol and also to have effects similar to estrogen.

Berries Reduce Heart Attack Risk

Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of naturally occurring compounds called dietary flavonoids, also found in grapes and wine, blackberries, eggplant, and other fruits and vegetables. A specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits, according to the study.

“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” said Eric Rimm D.Sc., senior author and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. “This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.”

Blueberries and strawberries were part of this analysis simply because they are the most-eaten berries in the United States. Thus, it’s possible that other foods could produce the same results, researchers said.

Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom conducted a prospective study among 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years.

Video: Food Chain and Health - Flavonoids

During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32-percent reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less – even in women who otherwise ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.

“We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life,” said Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., lead author and head of the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.

The findings were independent of other risk factors, such as age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake.

The American Heart Association supports eating berries as part of an overall balanced diet that also includes other fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to get the right amounts of nutrients.


American Heart Association
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association
Phytochemicals and Cardiovascular Disease
Zutphen Elderly Study
Seven Countries Study
Flavonoids in Citrus Fruits Lowers Stroke Risk
Flavonols In Dark Chocolate Help Against Cardiovascular Disease
Popular Flavonoid, Rutin, As Preventive Therapy Against Blood Clots, Strokes and Heart Attacks
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American Heart Association Infographics on Heart Disease
Being Aware and Preventing Heart Disease: An Infographic From The American Heart Association