How to Boost Heart Health with Berries
How to Boost Heart Health with Berries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all Americans have at least one of the following three risk factors for heart disease; hypertension, smoking or high cholesterol. A healthy diet reduces those risks and increases our heart health.

A 2013 Harvard University study found that women who ate 3-plus (1/2 cup) servings weekly of berries had a 34% decrease in heart attacks; the study specifically looked at strawberries and blueberries.

Why Berries are So Good for Hearts

Berries are rich in nutrients such as polyphenols, which include flavonoids and other antioxidants. Anthocyanin is a particular type of flavonoid that’s especially abundant in berries and linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

These nutrients appear to lower blood pressure and reduce obesity, inflammation, cholesterol and stiffness in the arteries which are all major factors in developing heart disease.

Ways to Use Berries to Improve Heart Health

Generally, fresh or frozen berries are better for you than dried ones, which seem to concentrate the sugar. However, some dried berries won’t hurt here and there.

With most berries, it’s best to store in the refrigerator and use within a week. Rinse berries, place them in a colander and then submerge the colander in water. Dry gently and thoroughly on paper towels, and freeze for later if you can’t eat them soon enough. It’s best to freeze them in a single flat layer.

How to Work Berries into Your Diet

  • Top cold or hot cereal with berries
  • Blend with milk and low-fat yogurt for a quick smoothie
  • Wash and pack along with nuts in a bag for a quick snack on the go
  • Add to salads along with greens, nuts and seeds
  • Drink as infused water, still or sparkling
  • Pair with dark chocolate by melting the chocolate, dipping the berries and placing in the freezer until firm
  • Blend with milk and/or yogurt and freeze in ice pop molds
  • Create a fruit salad mix, adding special touches like coconut flakes, other fruits and add a dollop of low-fat whipped cream
  • Bake some healthy muffins with whole grains, nuts and berries of your choice
  • Make an oatmeal-berry crisp in the air fryer
  • Create a sauce from berries to pour over pancakes and waffles
  • Cook a berry compote sauce to accompany main dishes like pork, beef, chicken or seafood
  • Create a berry jam
  • Grill berries
  • Bake berry granola
  • Blend into berry ice cubes
  • Make a sorbet
  • Prepare homemade fruit leather
  • Roast berries and caramelize