Do Blueberries Lower Cholesterol?

An animal lab study appears to indicate that blueberries – specifically the peel – offer a way to lower LDL cholesterol levels, though the human benefits remain unclear.
Courtesy Marcia Wood, Agricultural Research Service News Service
June 17, 2011
Add to My MSN

Blueberries may help lower cholesterol.
courtesy ARS/Stephen Ausmus


Content Tools

Related Content

Save Food!

A World War I poster urges Americans to save food and minimize waste.

Rustic Fruit and Berry Recipes

Gather fresh fruit for one of these rustic recipes.

New Blueberry Recipes

The Wild Blueberry Association of North America offers one method to add more fruits to your new ye...

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Step outside of the same ol', same ol' with this Sourdough Blueberry Muffins recipe.

Laboratory hamsters that were fed rations spiked with blueberry peels and other blueberry-juice-processing leftovers had better cholesterol health than hamsters whose rations weren’t enhanced with blueberries. That’s according to a study led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Wallace H. Yokoyama. 

Yokoyama pointed out that further research is needed to confirm whether the effects observed in hamsters hold true for humans. He works at the Western Regional Research Center operated in Albany, California, by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the principal scientific research agency of USDA.

In the investigation, hamsters were fed high-fat rations. For some animals, those rations were supplemented with one of three different kinds of juice byproducts: blueberry skins – that is, peels leftover when berries are pressed to make juice; fiber extracted from the peels; or natural compounds known as polyphenols, also extracted from the peels. Blueberry polyphenols give the fruit its purple, blue, and red coloration.

In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2010, Yokoyama and his coinvestigators reported that all the hamsters that were fed blueberry-enhanced rations had from 22 to 27 percent lower total plasma cholesterol than hamsters fed rations that didn’t contain blueberry juice byproducts.

Levels of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein – a form of “bad” cholesterol) were about 44 percent lower in the blueberry-fed hamsters.

Yokoyama and his coinvestigators used a procedure known as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, to learn about the genes responsible for these effects. This approach allowed the scientists to pinpoint differences in the level of activity of certain liver genes.

In hamsters – and in humans – the liver both makes cholesterol and helps get rid of excessive levels of it. Results suggest that activity of some liver genes that either produce or use cholesterol resulted in the lower blood cholesterol levels.

The study is apparently the first published account of cholesterol-lowering effects in laboratory hamsters fed blueberry peels or fiber or polyphenols extracted from those peels.

Of course, some pieces of the cholesterol puzzle are not yet in place. For example, the researchers don’t know which berry compound or compounds activated the liver genes, or which parts of the berry have the highest levels of these compounds.

Yokoyama collaborated in the study with former Albany postdoctoral research associate Hyunsook Kim and ARS research chemist Agnes M. Rimando, who is based at Oxford, Mississippi.

More details about this study are available in the May/June 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.








Post a comment below.

 








Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!

SPECIAL BONUS OFFER!

At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!