Berries have amazing health benefits. The main reason is the high density of antioxidants that most berries contain. A diet rich in antioxidants can help improve your overall health, to be sure, but they can also help prevent certain diseases that stem directly from cholesterol related problems. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants to some degree, but the density of antioxidants in berries makes them one of the absolute best sources to naturally combat cholesterol.
In brief, antioxidants are molecules that inhibit oxidation. This is good for humans insofar as the food we eat, and then subsequently store in our bodies, once oxidized can release free radicals that lead to the formation of fatty lesions in the walls of blood vessels and can lead to increased levels of cholesterol.
More specifically, the build-up of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, a primary contributor to heart disease, stroke and arteriosclerosis can be reduced, according to an international team of scientists writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, by the consumption of antioxidant rich berries. In other words, antioxidants help prevent the production of atherosclerotic plaque by decreasing oxidation of LDL and they increase antioxidant capacity in the blood.
A study out of Oklahoma State University published in the “Nutrition Journal,” found that women who drank freeze-dried strawberry powder in smoothies and other drinks were able to lower both their LDL and total cholesterol levels significantly after only four weeks.
All berries have a cholesterol inhibiting effect, with Blackberries having the highest, followed by raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Some berries are also high in pectin that further contributes to the lowering the LDL cholesterol.
Cardiovascular diseases and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. So, being that it’s berry season – let’s get out to the farmers’ markets and start eating those anti-oxidizing berries.