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By now, we’re all very familiar with antioxidants.
They may even help reduce vulnerability to Covid-19.
But there’s a special class of antioxidants you may not have heard of — anthocyanins.
These are a special type of dietary polyphenol compound found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, red wine, eggplant, red cabbage, red/purple grapes and red-fleshed peaches and apples.
Now, a study from King’s College London has found the perfect source of these polyphenols — one that if you snack on daily may significantly improve your heart and blood vessel function.
Not just for Thanksgiving
In a clinical trial, the London researchers found that daily consumption of powdered cranberries for one month improved cardiovascular function in healthy men.
The study included 45 healthy men who consumed nine grams of whole cranberry powder (the equivalent of 100g of fresh cranberries per day) or a placebo for one month.
And what the researchers found was impressive.
The men benefited from a significant improvement in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which signals improvement of heart and blood vessel function. Basically, FMD is a biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and measures how blood vessels widen when blood flow increases.
FMD improved both two hours after first consumption of cranberry powder and after one month of daily consumption.
In other words, the berry powder appeared to go to work right away and kept working long term.
In addition, the researchers were able to identify specific metabolites in the blood of the men that resulted in the positive effects on the heart and blood vessels.
Overall, the researchers concluded that cranberries can play an important role in supporting cardiovascular health and good blood vessel function.
Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, senior author of the study, said: “The increases in polyphenols and metabolites in the bloodstream and the related improvements in flow-mediated dilation after cranberry consumption emphasize the important role cranberries may play in cardiovascular disease prevention.
“The fact that these improvements in cardiovascular health were seen with an amount of cranberries that can be reasonably consumed daily makes cranberry an important fruit in the prevention of cardiovascular disease for the general public.”
Getting the most from your berries
This study was supported by The Cranberry Institute — but don’t let their interests dissuade you. Polyphenolic pigments, like anthocyanins, regardless of which berry the research is done on, have solid evidence behind their health benefits.
Cranberries, blueberries and chokeberries (Aronia berry) do stand out though. They are rich in unique proanthocyanidins that have distinct properties compared to polyphenols found in other fruits.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, proanthocyanidins may protect the heart and cardiovascular system because they reduce the risk of blood clots and this may lower the risk of a heart attack.
They also work as antioxidants and block nitrosamines from forming and protect healthy cells from their effects.
If you want to kick their benefits up a notch, enjoy them with a dairy product.
So why not eat your cranberries — or favorite berry of choice — with a nice, cold glass of milk.
Or you could even mix them into yogurt with granola to create a heart-healthy breakfast parfait.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!