LONDON — Cranberries are famous for their distinct tart taste. However, new research by a team at King’s College London suggests this delicious fruit should be just as synonymous with healthy hearts.
Scientists report eating just 100 grams of cranberries per day contributes to particularly robust cardiac functioning in healthy men. Even better, the cardiac benefits of cranberry consumption appeared almost immediately!
A group of 45 healthy men took part in this project. Half the group consumed whole cranberry powder equivalent to 100g of fresh cranberries per day (9 grams of powder), while the second half took a placebo each day. Both groups ate their assigned food item on a daily basis for one month. The participants assigned to the cranberry powder group displayed notable improvements in their flow-mediated dilations (FMD). Study authors say FMD signals both heart and blood vessel function improvements.
Scientists consider FMD an important and sensitive biomarker of one’s cardiovascular disease risk, measuring the widening of blood vessels when blood flow increases.
Immediate benefits with long-lasting results
It’s also important to note that the FMD improvements among participants were apparent within just two hours of consuming cranberry powder, with the beneficial effects remaining after one month of daily consumption. This suggests eating cranberries is great for the heart in both the immediate short term and over the long haul.
“The increases in polyphenols and metabolites in the bloodstream and the related improvements in flow-mediated dilation after cranberry consumption emphasize the important role cranberries may play in cardiovascular disease prevention. The fact that these improvements in cardiovascular health were seen with an amount of cranberries that can be reasonably consumed daily makes cranberry an important fruit in the prevention of cardiovascular disease for the general public,” says senior study author Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, in a university release.
It isn’t exactly breaking news that eating more fruits and vegetables in general is good for the heart. Despite that, recent research continues to provide further evidence that the polyphenols found within berries have a strong connection to healthy hearts. Cranberries in particular have an abundant amount of unique proanthocyanidins that offer distinct properties in comparison to the polyphenols in other fruits.
Study authors conclude that eating roughly 100 grams of cranberries per day likely reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by strengthening blood vessel function.
“Our findings provide solid evidence that cranberries can significantly affect vascular health even in people with low cardiovascular risk. This study further indicates that specific metabolites present in blood after cranberry consumption are related to the beneficial effects,” adds study co-author Dr. Christian Heiss, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Surrey.
The study is published in the journal Food & Function.