Can a Daily Cup of Blueberries Improve Arterial Stiffness?
Blueberries contain a high concentration of anthocyanins, powerful polyphenols that improve vascular functioning.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away. But when it comes to smooth functioning of the vascular system, a cup of blueberries might be even better, according to a brand new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers at the King’s College London Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine in the United Kingdom found that eating the equivalent of one cup of wild blueberries a day improved measures of arterial stiffness, a key indicator of vascular health. The study also showed that regular consumption of this superfood boosts cognitive functioning and lowers blood pressure.
Participants in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study randomized controlled trial we given either 26g of freeze-dried wild blueberry powder (302 mg anthocyanins) or placebo (0 mg anthocyanins) for 12 weeks. The researchers measured endothelial function by monitoring several key biomarkers, including flow-mediated dilation (FMD), cognitive function, arterial stiffness, blood pressure (BP), cerebral blood flow (CBF). They looked at the gut microbiome and these other hemodynamic parameters both at baseline and after 12 weeks of consumption.
The group eating the blueberry powder had a statistically significant improvement in flow mediated dilation and systolic blood pressure (with the latter decreasing 3.59 mmHG). They also had faster reaction times and improved short term memory compared to their cognitive tests at baseline. While no changes on cerebral blood flow or gut microbiota were found, the test participants had a much higher concentration of polyphenols in their system compared to the placebo group.
The researchers concluded that regular consumption of polyphenols could help reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) and potentially improve memory and executive functioning in older adults at risk of cognitive decline.