A new study has revealed that blueberries - a fruit you can get in almost every supermarket in Britain - are brilliant at helping conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, which includes heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
The study, co-authored by Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Maine, looked at obese rats which were fed a diet of blueberries. In human portions, this would be around two cups.
They found that it improved the relaxing and constricting in the blood vessels (endothelial function), which then had a positive impact on blood flow and blood pressure.
It was found to significantly affect metabolic syndrome.
Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Maine and a co-author of the study, said in Medical Daily: "Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors characterised by obesity, hypertension [high blood pressure, inflammation, high cholesterol, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction. Many substances found in food have the potential to prevent metabolic syndrome, thus reducing the need for medication and medical intervention."
The best way to eat them is raw, but if you eat them in muffins or pies, be aware that you can lose about 20% of the polyphenol goodness.
Another food that has been touted as a big help in the fight against diabetes has been baobab, originally from Africa, which has three times the amount of polyphenols that blueberries have. It can be bought in powder or tablet form.
Researchers at the Functional Food Centre at the University, who have just published their findings in the scientific journal Nutrition, measured and extracted the polyphenol contents of the Baobab fruit. Using healthy human volunteers they measured the rate of starch and sugar breakdown in their blood supply after they had eaten the Baobab extract contained in either white bread or drunk it in water.
They found that Baobab fruit extract added to white bread significantly reduced the rate at which sugar was released into the blood supply post digestion, and likewise when added to water. There was no effect on satiety. This research provides evidence that there is potential for Baobab to be added to beverages and food for people who have Type II Diabetes to help them to control their symptoms.
TOP POLYPHENOL-RICH FOODS
- Peppermint, dried
- Star anise
- Cocoa powder
- Celery seed
- Dark chocolate
- Flaxseed meal
- Black elderberry
- Common sage, dried
- Rosemary, dried
- Spearmint, dried
- Common thyme, dried
- Lowbush blueberry
- Black olive
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Tomatoes are great for brightening the skin but more importantly, the <a href="http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-25/diet/29773716_1_olive-oil-bad-cholesterol-healthy-heart" target="_blank">food also acts as a blood purifier.</a> It also contains lots of Vitamin K, which helps to prevent hemorrhages.
Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan, which helps bring down cholesterol levels, particularly LDL which is the worst type of cholesterol.
It's packed with the 'good' type of fat - monounsaturated - and lowers LDL levels (bad cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease) while raising HDL cholesterol levels in your body. HDL cholesterol prevents your arteries from getting clogged.
Edamame is the yummiest form of soy, and it's a great source of protein to replace red meat which can be high in bad cholesterol and saturated fat.
Omega 3-fatty acids are great for lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting and boosting your immunity. According to <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/HB00087" target="_blank">The Mayo Clinic</a>, each one to two servings a week can reduce the risk of heart disease.
All dark berries are good for the heart, but blueberries in particular can help widen arteries, <a href="http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/heart-and-cardiovascular/6-healthiest-berries-for-womens-hearts#3" target="_blank">which helps blood to flow smoothly, preventing blockages</a>.
Chickpeas (as well as kidney beans) are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids - a good alternative to fish for vegetarians.
Rich in iron, spinach isn't just a good heart disease preventative, it can also help your recovery if you do have a heart attack. It contains <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-493290/Spinach-helps-survive-heart-attack.html" target="_blank">a lot of nitrite</a> which aids recovery.
Like olive oil, almonds are a good source of healthy fat and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Scatter some over your yogurt in the morning - do not eat the whole bag!