I am constantly surprised when I find out how many women still don’t know that heart disease is our #1 killer. Doesn’t matter your race. Doesn’t matter your ethnicity. If you’re a woman, chances are higher that you’ll die of heart disease than anything else. And many of us women have at least one risk factor for heart disease. The biggies are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity and family history.
Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom. You can do something today to lower your risk. Just open up your refrigerator and dig into that carton of blueberries.
The antioxidants in berries are known to be great for our skin, staving off wrinkles. There’s even evidence that snacking on berries helps keep your brain sharp. Now, a group of researchers in the UK has published a study online in the journal Circulation*, showing that a berry-rich diet may lower the risk of having a heart attack.
Using data from the very large observational Nurses’ Health Study 2 (NHS 2), they tracked the eating habits and heart attack rates of over 93,000 women. In particular, they looked at comsumption of blueberries and strawberries, which contain a class of flavonoids called anthocyanins that have been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit the heart. Their analysis showed that the more women ate these berries, the lower their risk of heart attack.
To be fair, the data also showed that berry-happy women also led healthier lifestyles overall. Well, eating sweet, juicy berries is a pretty easy habit to pick up on your way to a healthier life. And the study serves as just one more reminder that incorporating a diet rich in phytonutrients is good for you in so many ways—inside and out.
* Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, et al. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation 2013; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.122408. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org.
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