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Wild blueberries may help protect arteries, reduce risks from cardiovascular disease

. We know now that blueberries affect the contractile machinery of the artery," says Klimis-Zacas.

The finding is important because the force with which an artery responds to stress can directly affect blood pressure. Norton and Klimis-Zacas presented the results of the study at the 2003 annual conference of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in San Diego, California and to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The apparent benefit of the blueberry enriched diet carried over to older rats which received blueberries later in the study. The implication is that the addition of wild blueberries to the diet later in life may still have a protective effect on arteries.

The study has not been replicated in humans, and the researchers did not identify the compounds in wild blueberries that affect arteries. However, it is likely that high concentrations of antioxidants and trace minerals such as manganese which are high in blueberries could explain the beneficial effect, says Klimis-Zacas.

During the project, three groups of rats containing ten animals per group were fed the same diets with the exception of ground, whole wild blueberries. One group received the blueberry addition for the entire time, while another group had the same diet without blueberries. To test the addition of blueberries to the diet later in life, the third group received a diet without blueberries for 14 weeks followed by a blueberry enriched diet for eight weeks.

The amount of blueberries given to the rats per day corresponds to between one and two cups of blueberries per day for humans.

Researchers then surgically removed the aortas from each rat. They cut four ring sections from each aorta and tested the force generated by each section in response to the presence of hormones that stimulate arteries to relax or contract. During the tests, the arterial ring sections were hung in a tissue bath under condi
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Contact: Dorothy Klimis-Zacas
dorothy_klimis@umenfa.maine.edu
207-581-3124
University of Maine
31-Oct-2003


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