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Berry’d treasure for women’s cardio health

New research supports cardio-boosting power of blueberries for older women. 

Native Americans called them “star berries,” because of the five-pointed blossom on the plants. That could be an apt name for blueberries today as well, as the bright little fruits continue to play leading roles in research supporting their health benefits. Most recently, a study suggests the berries’ power to reduce cardiovascular risk in older women. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a daily dose of blueberries could make a cardiovascular difference for postmenopausal women. For the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 48 postmenopausal women ate a daily dose of either 22 g of freeze-dried blueberry powder or a placebo for eight weeks. The women all had either pre or stage 1-hypertension.

The women who ate the blueberry powder experienced a 5.1 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 6.3 decrease in diastolic blood pressure. Not only that--on, average, their arterial stiffness went down by 6.5 percent. In the abstract of the article, the authors suggest the effects may be due, in part to nitric oxide production.

A study last year suggested eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce risk of a heart attack by one third. Other studies have shown berries slow cognitive decline in elderly women. Stars indeed.

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