Ladies, Load up on THESE Foods to Help Your Heart
Red and blue should be your heart's new favorite colors.
Women who eat three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries a week may cut their heart attack risk, according to a new study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom tracked the health of 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 for 18 years through questionnaires given every four years. In that time 405 heart attacks occurred. The participants who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who consumed berries only once a month, even when taking other dietary, medical, environmental, and lifestyle factors into account.
“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 Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., lead author and head of the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School in a press release.
The secret ingredient? A plant pigment and flavonoid called anthocyanin, which may protect your ticker by dilating your arteries and combating vessel-constricting plaque. It’s the same compound that lends red, purple, and blue hues to many fruits and vegetables. While the study singled out blueberries and strawberries because of their popularity in American diets, the researchers noted that similarly colored fruits and vegetables also contain the flavonoid, making anthocyanin-rich foods easy to spot in the supermarket. Cherries, cranberries, grapes, wine, eggplants, black beans, and red radishes are all good bets.
"This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts," said study senior author Eric Rimm D.Sc., Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Cassidy also adds that, although anthocyanin's benefits were studied in women, they're likely to hold true for men as well.
—Jessica Chia, Fitbie Intern
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