Eating Berries May Help Women Avoid Heart Attacks

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Young and middle-aged women who eat blueberries and strawberries regularly may help lower their risk of a heart attack later.

In a new study, researchers wanted to focus on whether substances known as anthocyanins are good for the heart.

Anthocyanins are antioxidants, substances found in plants that protect and repair cells from damage. Anthocyanins provide the red, blue, and purple colors found in strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables.

The study followed more than 93,000 women for 18 years. The women, ages 25 to 42 when they joined the study, reported on their diet every four years.

A trend toward lower risk of heart attack was found in women who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries weekly, compared to those who ate fewer servings. A serving is roughly half a cup.

"Substances naturally present in red/blue colored fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of a heart attack 32% in young and middle-aged women," says Aedin Cassidy, PhD, a researcher at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.

The new findings echo those of other studies showing that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked with lower heart disease, says C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

Merz says the study is observational, meaning it does not prove that berries help with heart health. Women who eat berries may also have other healthy habits that could prevent heart attacks, she says.

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SOURCE: WebMD Health News
Kathleen Doheny
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