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Berries improve blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol, while decreasing the odds of a dangerous blood clot

Nov 01, 2013

Berries improve blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol, while decreasing the odds of a dangerous blood clot

Berries are a particularly rich source of polyphenols. They also contain other actively protective substances, such as vitamin C. Previous studies indicate that the consumption of polyphenol-rich foods (e.g., cocoa, green tea, and red wine) improve the function of systems related to cardiovascular health.

In this new study, scientists from the National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland investigated the effects of berries on hemostatic function, serum lipids, and blood pressure. In the study 72 middle-aged unmedicated subjects with cardiovascular risk factors consumed moderate amounts of berry or control products for 8 weeks in a single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial. Berry consumption reduced platelet stickiness decreasing the risk of a blood clot that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Plasma biomarkers of platelet activation, coagulation, and fibrinolysis did not change during the intervention meaning that the berries did not actually thin the blood but their effect was on minimizing abnormal clotting activity.

Serum HDL-cholesterol concentrations increased in the berry group by a significant 5.2%, but total cholesterol and triglycerides remained unchanged. Systolic BP decreased significantly with the decrease occurring mostly in subjects with high BP with a drop of 7.3 mm of mercury. Polyphenol and vitamin C concentrations in the subjects’ plasma increased. The results indicate that regular consumption of berries may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The study is published in the February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.