The wild blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium is a rich source of concentrated non-nutritive antioxidants. And these antioxidants seem to be able to lower cholesterol levels.
Researchers in Canada studied the effects of blueberry supplements on plasma cholesterol levels. They conducted two feeding trials with pigs
In the first feeding trial, the test animals were given a diet of 70% plant-based (soya, barley and oats). In the second feeding trial, the diet was 20% plant-based. The two types of diet were then added 1 %, 2 % and 4 % blueberries. The results of both feeding trials show a decrease in total cholesterol as well as LDL- and HDL-cholesterol levels.
However, the plasma lipid lowering effect of the blueberries was more evident in the feeding trial of mostly plant-based diet. According to lead researcher Wilhelmina Kalt, the soy, oats and barley contained in plant-based diets may have worked synergistically with blueberry antioxidants, resulting in a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.
Another Canadian study studied the effect of blueberries in humans.
A single-blinded crossover study was performed in a group of eight middle-aged male subjects (38-54 years). Subjects consumed a high-fat meal and a control supplement followed 1 week later by the same high-fat meal supplemented with 100 0 g freeze-dried wild blueberry powder.
In a previous post, I have described how a high-fat meal results in post-prandial dysmetabolism and oxidative stress. Results of the second study show that blueberry concentrate supplement increased the total antioxidant status in serum levels. It seems that the antioxidants in blueberries can counteract the oxidative stress brought about by post-prandial dysmetabolism. Increased antioxidant serum status also reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases.
Blueberry is a low bush that grows in wooded and open areas in the US and Canada. Check out your neighborhood to see whether there are wild blueberries for the picking!
For more information about wild blueberries, their nutritional facts, and recipes, check out this site.
Kalt W et al. Effect of blueberry feeding on plasma lipids in pigs. British Journal of Nutrition (2008), 100:70-78
Kay CD & Holub BJ. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition (2002), 88:389-397