Bilberries have beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk reduction
Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) are recognized as a good source of anthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, flavonoids, alpha-linolenic acid, pterostilbene, and vitamins. Recent studies have shown the benefit of consuming bilberries to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and anti-inflammation.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, and lifestyle modification, especially dietary changes, can improve this condition. In this study, bilberries were assumed to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease risk reduction, by decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, "bad cholesterol") and triglycerides (TG) and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, "good cholesterol").
The research involved 25 women (mean age 48 years) and 11 men (mean age 49 years), all of whom were apparently healthy. Participants were asked not to change their dietary habits or lifestyle during the study. Weight, height, volume of the body parameters, blood pressure, blood profiles (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerids) and many other blood parameters were measured during the study. The participants were instructed to consume 150 g of frozen wild bilberries three times per week for six weeks. In the end of the study period, the following changes were observed in the blood profiles of participants:
- Total cholesterol deacreased (P = 0,017)
- LDL deacresed (P = 0,0347)
- Triglyserides decreased (P = 0,001)
- Glucose decreased (P = 0,005)
- Albumin decreased (P = 0,001)
- Gammaglutamyltransferase decreased (P = 0,046)
- HDL increased (P = 0,044)
- Total cholesterol deacreased (P = 0,004)
- Glucose decreased (P = 0,015)
- Albumin decreased (P = 0,028)
- Aspartate aminotransferase decreased (P = 0,012)
- HDL increased (P = 0,009)
- In this group also LDL increased (P = 0,007)
Results show that the short-term inclusion of bilberries in the diet can contribute to improved blood plasma lipid profiles. Even though LDL levels increased in men they were still below the considered risk values. The study shows that the regular consumption of bilberries can contribute to beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases risk reduction by decreasing LDL and triglycerides and increasing HDL. However, the current study was limited in many ways: the study population was relatively small, control group was missing and the study period was only six weeks. Therefore more studies are needed to investigate the health benefits of the phenolic compounds in berries.
Source: Habanova, M., Saraiva, J.A., Haban, M., Schwarzova, M., Chlebo, P., Predna, L., Gazo, J. & Wyka, J. (2016): Intake of bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) reduced cardiovascular diseases risk factors through positive influences in lipoprotein profiles. Nutrition research 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.11.010.
Anni Koskela, Arctic Flavours Association
+358 40 164 6177
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