Fresh berries can significantly reduce the buildup of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, a culprit that contributes to heart disease, stroke and atherosclerosis, a form of arteriosclerosis, according to an international team of scientists writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The article appears in the Sept. 12 Web edition of the journal, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Blackberries have the highest LDL inhibitory effect, followed by red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries and strawberries, according to Edwin Frankel, Ph.D., of the University of California at Davis where the research was done. Other members of the team included I. Marina Heinonen, Ph.D., visiting scientist from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Anne Meyer, Ph.D., visiting scientist from the Technical University of Denmark.
During in vitro studies, the group found that naturally occurring phenolic compounds in fresh berries exhibited antioxidant activities "comparable to those previously found for fresh grapes and wines," said Frankel. "As far as we know, this is the first time berry extracts have been evaluated for their antioxidant activities in human low-density lipoproteins."
Research is ongoing to determine the amount of berries a person would need to consume in order to reap the antioxidant benefits, according to Frankel.
Cardiovascular diseases and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
A nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 155,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.