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More berries, less cholesterol

A diet with elderberries, aronia berries, cranberries and blueberries could improve cholesterol metabolism. We base this bold statement on a Chinese meta-study in which supplementation with anthocyanins reduces the concentration of triglycerides and LDL in the blood, while increasing that of HDL.

More berries, less cholesterol

Fruits and vegetables, especially berries, contain anthocyanins. Studies suggest that anthocyanins have an anti-oestrogenic effect, make arterial walls more flexible and may improve body composition via a subtle effect on insulin action.

In 2016, researchers from Zhengzhou University published a meta-study in PLoS One, in which they pooled and re-analyzed the outcomes of 6 previously published trials.

In total, the researchers had access to data from 586 subjects, all of whom had unhealthy cholesterol levels. During the trials, subjects in the experimental groups received 90-320 milligrams of anthocyanins daily in supplement form for 8-24 weeks.

Supplementation reduced the concentration of triglycerides and LDL in the subjects' blood, and also increased the HDL level.

Click on the figure below for a larger version.

More berries, less cholesterol

US data
According to American research, [J Agric Food Chem. 2006 May 31;54(11):4069-75.] the average American consumes 12.5 milligrams of anthocyanins daily. That is significantly lower than the doses in the studies the Chinese used in their meta-analysis.

However, the average American doesn't eat that many berries. If you take a look at the right column of the table below [click on it for a larger version], you will see that it is possible to get impressive amounts of anthocyanins via regular whole foods such as elderberries, aronia berries, cherries, blueberries and black raspberries.

More berries, less cholesterol

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 2;11(9):e0162089.

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