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Can some blueberries each day keep the doctor away?

How do freeze-dried blueberries affect the cardiometabolic health of people with the metabolic syndrome? This study aimed to find out.

Study under review: Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome-results from a 6-month, double-blind, randomized controlled trial.

Introduction

Metabolic syndrome[1] refers to a cluster of issues that arise from a disordered metabolism, including impaired glucose tolerance, elevated triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of several chronic diseases, specifically type 2 diabetes[2] (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease[3] (CVD). As of 2012, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the U.S. was about 35% in adults[4] and about 5-7% in young adults[5]. Accordingly, interventions that can address metabolic syndrome are warranted.

Metabolic syndrome can be addressed through pharmacological interventions and/or lifestyle modification. Pharmacological options often utilize glucose-lowering agents such as metformin or GLP-1 receptor agonists, and/or lipid lowering agents such as statins, fenofibrates, or thiazolidinediones. Lifestyle interventions, on the other hand, rely heavily on exercise and caloric restriction[6]. They have been shown, time and again, to provide therapeutic benefits and improve many of the aspects of metabolic disease synergistically. In addition to pharmacological interventions and lifestyle modifications, specific nutritional interventions, such as nutraceuticals, may also be a useful tool in the management of metabolic syndrome. Blueberries are one such intervention that shows promise.

Blueberries contain many bioactive compounds. Specifically, they contain a group of compounds called flavonoids. Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoids that are found in high concentration in blueberries. In observational studies, higher intakes of anthocyanins are associated with a lower risk[7] of diabetes and a previous randomized controlled trial found that 50 grams of blueberries per day reduced blood pressure[8] and provided antioxidant benefits to people with metabolic syndrome. The present study is a randomized controlled trial examining the effect of six months of dietarily achievable blueberry intake on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic function in people with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome occurs in roughly one-third of all adults in the U.S. Blueberries contain bioactive compounds, specifically a family of compounds called anthocyanins that may provide benefits for people with metabolic syndrome. The present study is a randomized controlled trial examining the effect of six months of dietary blueberry intake on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic function in metabolic syndrome.

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Other Articles in Issue #58 (August 2019)