Boston, Ma and Norwich, UK—Listen up, ladies! Those strawberries atop your granola and the blueberries in your yogurt do more than just lather your taste buds in sweetness. According to the results from a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, they can reduce your risk of a heart attack as well.

The research team, whose manuscript was originally published in the journal Circulation, followed-up with 93,600 women ages 25-42 from the Nurses’ Health Study II, who filled out questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years. The results were staggering. Out of the 93,600 surveyed, only 405 had heart attacks. Those women who consumed three servings of berries per week saw a 32% reduction in their heart attack risk opposed to the women who maintained a healthy diet, but only consumed the berries once a month or less. Other factors such as family history of heart attack, high blood pressure, body mass, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake were independent of the study’s results.

Why are strawberries and blueberries so heart healthy? Both berries have high levels of a compound called dietary flavonoids. Anthocyanians, a sub-class of flavonoids, counteract the build up of plaque in the arteries. Flavonoids are found in many other fruits and vegetables like grapes, blackberries, and eggplants.

An author of the study, Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D. and head of the department of nutrition at Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia, stated “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life.”

So don’t be afraid to tell your shoppers to pile berries onto their favorite mid-day snack. Their hearts will thank them (and you) later.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2013 (online 2/7/12)