Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.
February 22 2019. A report published on February 16, 2019 in the Journal of Gerontology, Series A describes the findings of improvement in blood vessel function and blood pressure among healthy individuals who consumed blueberries daily for one month. The researchers, led by Ana Rodriguez-Mateos of King’s College London’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, attribute blueberries’ benefits to the presence of phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which are responsible for the berries’ rich color.
“If the changes we saw in blood vessel function after eating blueberries every day could be sustained for a person’s whole life, it could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20%,” Dr Rodriguez-Matos remarked.
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Forty participants were given a drink that contained 200 grams blueberries or a control drink that contained a similar amount of nutrients and fiber daily for a month. Blood pressure, flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery (a measure of endothelial function that helps evaluate cardiovascular disease risk), and blood and urine factors were assessed during the study. Another investigation compared participants who received a blueberry drink or an amount of anthocyanins similar to that contained in the blueberry drink.
Both blueberries and anthocyanins were associated with improved endothelial function as assessed by flow-mediated dilation, while the control drink was associated with no significant effects. The blueberry drink was additionally associated with a reduction in systolic blood pressure. Analysis of 63 anthocyanin metabolites in blood plasma revealed a relationship of two metabolites with flow-mediated dilation improvement. These metabolites were shown to improve flow-mediated dilation in mice. Thirteen metabolites were associated with gene expression changes.
“Our results identify anthocyanin metabolites as major mediators of vascular bioactivities of blueberries and changes of cellular gene programs,” the authors concluded.