Monday, October 18, 2010

Blueberries : Fight Atherosclerosis, Gluten-Free

It is always nice to read about gluten-free diet items that are great tasting and versatile while also offering the promise of even better health. In the case of blueberries, it looks as though these gluten-free wonders also hold the promise of fighting atherosclerosis (i.e., "hardening of the arteries"), at lease according to a recent study funded by the USDA.

The results of using blueberries to counteract atherosclerosis were quite promising, if even just observed in mice at this point.  As the study concluded:
"The research provides the first direct evidence that blueberries can help prevent harmful plaques or lesions, symptomatic of atherosclerosis, from increasing in size in arteries."
Now wouldn't that be nice if we could just all consume blueberries and prevent a major cause of cardiovascular disease!?  I personally did not need to read this study to have a reason to consume blueberries in my gluten-free diet: I already love blueberries!  I try to mix them into my morning pancakes on a regular basis, or into my yogurt or smoothies, and I really like blueberry pie and other gluten-free desserts featuring blueberries (gee, I wonder if they will counteract the butter and sugar in those desserts? he he he)  Certainly a healthy fruit-salad featuring blueberries must be good for me, even if the blueberry-topped cheesecake is not :)

The details of the study findings showed that:
"The study compared the size, or area, of atherosclerotic lesions in 30 young laboratory mice. Half of the animals were fed diets spiked with freeze-dried blueberry powder for 20 weeks; the diet of the other mice did not contain the berry powder.
Lesion size, measured at two sites on aorta (arteries leading from the heart), was 39 and 58 percent less than that of lesions in mice whose diet did not contain blueberry powder.
The blueberry-spiked diet contained 1 percent blueberry powder, the equivalent of about a half-cup of fresh blueberries."
Now, my only concern is that if they fed the equivalent of a half-cup of fresh blueberries to a mouse in order to achieve these results, would that imply that I need to eat 1000-time that much to get the same results?  If so, then this is obviously unachievable for both financial and food-volume reasons.  Perhaps someone will find a way to create a blueberry powder concentrate (or synthesized version) that achieves similar results with less volume and a reasonable price.

Either way, I will continue to include blueberries in my gluten-free diet.  Knowing they may give me a bit of a defense against artery disease is just an added "bonus" in my book: I was going to eat them anyhow!