yogurt with fresh blueberry

Blueberries are the subject of two studies investigating the health properties of the fruit for reducing heart disease risk and its impact on physical activity.

In one study, yet to be conducted, scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich plan to assess if health markers linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes could be affected by eating blueberries.

Professor Aedin Cassidy, from the Department of Nutrition at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Large scale studies have shown that eating blueberries and anthocyanins – a naturally occurring flavonoid and the compound responsible for the blue colour of blueberries – can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and [type 2] diabetes.

“But not everyone receives the same health benefits after eating the same foods and the reason for this is not well understood. In the case of blueberries and anthocyanins, we think that differences in the way that people process and metabolise these foods may hold the key to understanding why they experience different health effects.”

Those who meet the study criteria will be asked to drink blueberry milkshakes and provide urine samples which will be used to determine how quickly each person processes the fruit. Those who digest blueberries really slowly, or fast, will be asked to take part in the main study.

In a separate study, researchers at Laval University in Quebec have studied a compound found in blueberries called proanthocyanidins and unexpectedly observed an increase in physical activity among mice supplemented with it.

“We’ve never seen this in the literature before,” said the researchers, whose results featured on a poster at the Berry Health Benefits Symposium in Portland, Orego, last week.

The compound possesses the polyphenols and fibres of a blueberry. The research showed that the mice supplemented with the compound were more physically active and were more likely to experience weight loss compared to those supplemented with other polyphenols.

The researchers now plan to further investigate associations between these compounds and their relationship with physical activity.

For more information about the properties of berries and the relationship between fruit and blood glucose, visit our award-winning Low Carb Program.

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