Here are four heart-healthy berries that are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Eating them could help your heart and circulatory system in a variety of different ways.
Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts can help you and your body stay fit and healthy. There's no best berry for heart health, but we've picked out a few berries that may have interesting, beneficial effects for your heart and circulatory system. Their small size and relatively low cost make them an excellent daytime snack or a healthy dessert.
A 2016 study found that drinking two glasses of cranberry juice daily could cut a person's risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Participants in the 8-week study had, on average, a 2% drop in blood sugar levels and a 3% decrease in blood pressure. They also had an astonishing 44% decrease in C-Reactive Protein (CRP) – each of these promising results are linked with better heart health1.CRP is a heart-health biomarker – this means that the levels of CRP in a person's blood can be used to predict their heart disease and heart attack risk with a quick blood test. When CRP readings are high (over 0.5mg/L), that person is at an increased risk of having a cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke2.
Cranberries are extremely tart as they contain very little sugar. One handful of cranberries contains around 4g of the sweet stuff, significantly less than some other berries. Dried cranberries are just as healthy as their raw counterparts and can be eaten as a tasty snack throughout the day. Some heart medications can be affected by cranberries and cranberry-containing products3. They can increase the potency of some drugs so check with your doctor before including them in your diet.
It isn't summer until strawberries are on the table. These succulent fruits are a healthy staple of British desserts and eating them could be helping your heart. Like all berries, strawberries are mostly water and dietary fibre. When it comes to heart health, fibre is essential. It isn't digested or broken down in the stomach, but it can lower cholesterol and prevent blood sugar levels from spiking when we consume food. A high-fibre diet has been shown to lower a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease4. Strawberries are also fairly high in sugar, so be mindful of how many you're eating.
These Asian berries have been eaten for thousands of years but have only recently caught on in the West. Goji berries are a classic example of a superfood – they're full of antioxidants and other nutrients and are typically more expensive to buy than other berries. There have been numerous health claims regarding Goji berries, many of which are exaggerated or untrue.
We do know that Goji berries contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need to survive. They're also high in vitamin C and extremely high in vitamin A – just one handful can provide you with more than your daily recommended intake of this essential vitamin. In traditional Chinese medicine, these berries are taken to treat a range of issues from poor eyesight to liver problems. Most of this is unfounded, but there is some evidence to support eating Goji berries for better heart health. They contain a compound called Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LPB), which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and increase HDL cholesterol in diabetics5.
Blueberries contain trace amounts of lycopene, a natural antioxidant that's been linked to a range of heart health benefits6. Lycopene is a red pigment that's often found in red fruits like tomatoes but blueberries also contain small amounts of this amazing molecule. It's believed to lower a person's risk of developing heart disease as it can reduce the levels of bad LDL cholesterol while boosting levels of good HDL cholesterol. Lycopene may also reduce the number of free-radicals in the blood, which could help to protect the DNA in cells from damage7.