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

February 28, 2008

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 7.3 mm Hg drop. 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.

Lipoic acid combined with Acetyl-L-Carnitine show diabetes potential

Researchers from the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia at the University of California (Irvine), report that the nutrients work together, strongly synergistically - a result not previously reported. Lipoic acid (ALA) has been linked to a host of health benefits, including enhancing heart and artery health, immune and brain functions and has been shown to support weight reduction. Likewise, Carnitine, a "conditionally essential nutrient" is an increasingly popular ingredient in dietary supplements intended for weight loss, health, and sports.
The new study measured the activity of the energy producing organs (the power plants known as mitochondria) in adipocytes (fat cells) in the presence of ALA and/or ALCAR for 24 hours. The mass of the mitochondria and their oxygen consumption were measured, in addition to several genetic markers.

The combination of ALA and ALCAR increased the mass, oxygen consumption, mitochondrial DNA expression, and fatty acid oxidation in the fat cells. In other words the supplements mimicked the effects of exercise on fat tissue; making it burn.

"However, the treatments with ALA or ALCAR alone at the same concentrations showed little effect on mitochondrial function and biogenesis," noted the researchers; they had to be used together for good effect.

Dr. Liu, the lead researcher noted: "Lipoic acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine have become very hot after our reports on the complementary effects on improving memory and ambulatory activity in old rats," relating to studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2002 (Vol. 99). The new study is published in the journal Diabetologia 2008, Volume 51.