Blueberries may reduce cholesterol levels more than 10% according to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The study, conducted by Canadian researchers, used pigs as their test subjects. Pigs have similar LDL cholesterol levels as humans and both can develop plaque build-ups in their arteries due to diet. Pigs also possess a similar blood pressure and heart rate according to Wilhelmina Kalt, from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Researchers fed the animals a two percent blueberry diet which led to reductions in total, LEL and HDL-cholesterol. Reductions ranged from 8-15%. Researchers suggested that the 2% blueberry diet for pigs is the equivalent of two cups of blueberries in a human diet. It’s unclear what extent other foods in the pigs’ diet had an effect on their cholesterol levels, “The soy, oats and barley contained in these diets may have functioned synergistically with the blueberries to beneficially affect plasma lipids,” said Kalt.
Researchers speculate that the polyphenols, specifically the flavonoids, contained in the berries were the major contributors in the cholesterol lowering. "Flavonoids may act as antioxidants to inhibit LDL oxidation and thereby protect against vascular insult by oxidation," said Kalt. "Flavonoids may also reduce vascular inflammation related to atherosclerosis."
The study was conducted by researchers affiliated with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic, Alberta Children's Hospital, and the Canadian Forestry Service. To read more about the story go here.