Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Things like a healthy diet, increased exercise, and low stress levels can keep our hearts healthy. But did you know there are some very specific foods that can be eaten to prevent a heart attack? One study from Harvard School of Public Health indicates strawberries and blueberries are able to slash the risk of a heart attack in women by a significant amount.
According to the study published in a recent edition of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, women who eat three or more servings of these healthful berries each week are able to reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack by up to one-third.
The researchers looked at the eating habits of almost 100,000 women, tracking their health and diets for 18 years, surveying them at four-year intervals. They found those who ate the most berries were able to reduce their risk of a heart attack by 32% when compared to those who only ate berries once per month or less.
It’s believed these heart healthy benefits come from something called anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids found within these berries. Flavanoids are antioxidant compounds found in a variety of foods including berries, wine, chocolate, and tea. Anthocyanins are most commonly found in fruits and vegetables that are dark red, blue, and purple—including berries.
These substances are believed to dilate the arteries, working to counteract plaque build-up that can eventually lead to a heart attack.
Reports that the researchers analyzed strawberry and blueberry consumption specifically because those are two that are easiest to obtain and the most likely to be eaten. They suggest adding three servings each week to reap the cardiovascular benefits and more.
Both blueberries and strawberries have been shown to deliver numerous heart-healthy benefits in studies of years past. From reducing hardening of the arteries to preventing high blood pressure, these little fruit pack a powerful punch.
Because berries are traditionally heavily coated with pesticides during the growing process, seek out organic berries at every opportunity. In season, by them locally and in the colder months find organic frozen berries at your local grocery store.