Heart Attack Prevention is Just a Smoothie Away

Heart Attack Prevention is Just a Smoothie Away

Written by Alex Reid
Posted January 21, 2013

What if lessening your risk for heart attack were as easy as adding a delicious snack to your diet several times a week? Well, according to new research published in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, this could be the case!

A study, conducted by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the UK, followed the dietary habits of 93,600 women ages 25-42 over a period of 18 years. During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. The results showed that women eating the most blueberries and strawberries were 32 percent less likely to experience a heart attack compared to women eating berries less than once a month, even if their diets were otherwise rich in other fruits and vegetables. The results held true even when researchers took into account factors such as age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass, exercise, smoking, and caffeine or alcohol intake.

Though this study does not provide specific insight as to why eating these berries was shown to reduce heart attack risk, the authors believe that the high levels of naturally occurring compounds called dietary flavonoids are responsible for the health benefits. These can also be found in grapes, blackberries, eggplant, and other dark colored fruits and vegetables, although strawberries and blueberries seemed to prove the most effective. Scientists hypothesize that a sub-class of flavonoids known as anthocyanins may help dilate arteries and counter the buildup of plaque while providing other cardiovascular benefits.

“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” said Eric Rimm D.Sc., senior author and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.”

And the best part is, blueberries and strawberries are a delicious addition to your diet that will not produce any negative side effects, and will only improve your overall health while reducing risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Try incorporating berries into your diet with these mouth-watering ideas: 

  • Add sliced strawberries to a spinach salad with feta cheese, red onions, and walnuts with a honey red wine vinaigrette.

  • Create a delectable dessert by layering berries with vanilla frozen yogurt and topping with granola.

  • Make a red, white, and blue breakfast smoothie with ½ banana, ½ cup strawberries, ¼ cup blueberries, 2 tablespoons of vanilla flavored greek yogurt, ½ cup milk, and ice.

Although the effect of these fruits on preventing heart attacks in men and older women have not been thoroughly evaluated, the American Heart Association supports eating berries as part of an overall balanced diet that also includes other fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.