Younger woman who consumed blueberries and strawberries at least three times a week decreased their risk of suffering a heart attack by as much as one-third according to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s Journal Circulation.

A sub-group of heart-friendly dietary flavenoids called anthocyanins, which give fruits their rich and deep red, purple and blue color—namely strawberries and blueberries—may be responsible for the cardiovascular health benefits revealed in an 18-year study.

According to the study, anthocyanins, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits like helping to dilate arteries.

The prospective study conducted by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, included 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II and completed detailed surveys about their diet every four years for 18 years.

“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” said Eric Rimm D.Sc., senior author and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. “This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.”

While the authors focused specifically on strawberries and blueberries as some of the most-eaten berries in the United States—researchers said that other berries, including raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, may have similar anti-inflammatory effects.

“We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life,” said Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., lead author and head of the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.

via American Heart Association

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