Berry-derived antioxidants can help to protect the heart, according to a new study.
Antioxidant compounds found in strawberries and blueberries may help to reduce women's risk of having a heart attack, scientists have found.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia carried out a study involving 93,600 women to see whether there was a link between the amount of berries they ate and their risk of heart attack.
The team analysed data from the Nurses' Health Study II, which collected information on the dietary habits of young and middle-aged women every four years for a total of 18 years.
They found that women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries benefited from a 32 per cent reduction in their risk of heart attack, compared with those who had berries just once a month or less.
It seems that eating three or more servings per week is likely to be most beneficial for heart health, according to Harvard's Dr Eric Rimm.
The scientist, whose findings are published in Circulation journal, added: "This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts."
Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said that more research is needed to understand why this link between red and purple berries and better heart health exists.
"We would need to know more before we make specific recommendations about individual fruit and vegetables in relation to heart disease," she explained.
Although more research is needed, experts believe the link may be due to naturally occurring antioxidant flavonoids in the berries, including a specific sub-class called anthocyanins.
It is thought that these chemicals may help to dilate the arteries and counter the build-up of arterial plaque, thereby reducing the risk of a heart attack.
Antioxidants are important for overall health and longevity as well, as they help to prevent damage to our DNA by neutralising harmful free radicals.
A simple way to ensure an adequate intake of these vital dietary components is to take a high-quality antioxidant food supplement, such as AlphaGuard Plus provided by The Really Healthy Company. AlphaGuard contains natural anthocyanins from grape seed extract.
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