We all know that berries can pack a potent punch of vitamin C, fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants. But according to a new study, there’s another reason that women, in particular, should down these colorful fruits if we want to prevent heart attacks (which, of course, we do).
Published in the latest issue of the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston evaluated 93,600 American women ages 25 to 42 who answered questions about their diet for 18 years. During the study, they tracked the link between eating berries and the number of heart attacks, among other things.
According to the results, women who consumed high amounts of anthocyanins–a compound found most commonly in strawberries and blueberries–were less likely to suffer a heart attack. Thirty-two percent less likely, in fact, versus women who consumed lower amounts of this berry compound. It is thought that anthocyanins may dilate arteries and prevent plaque buildup, thus leading to fewer heart attacks down the road.
Of course, eating strawberries and blueberries every day is not a guarantee that we can stave off a heart attack forever. The researchers here are careful to say that this is not a direct cause and effect. Instead, they note that it’s merely an association. So that association could be related to a number of factors–like, people who eat berries may tend to have a healthier diet all around and a healthier lifestyle. That’s just a theory. Of course, a well-rounded diet, plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are all other factors that are important for lowering our risk of heart disease. So let’s not put all of our faith in the power of berries.
Having said that, adding more strawberries and blueberries to your diet cannot hurt. And don’t worry that they’re not in season now, the healthy compound, anthocyanin, can also be found in blackberries, eggplant and grapes, so you have options.