Blueberry–A Natural Vascular Scavenger That Helps Prevent Heart Disease

A long-time friend of mine suddenly died of a heart attack while using the bathroom at home. I wondered—what caused his heart attack and why did it come on so suddenly and viciously? How should we deal with this disease? Can diet help us to reduce the risk of heart disease?

My friend was a wonderful person who took his work very seriously. He became busier as he got better at his job and was promoted to higher positions, often working until very late at night. When I visited him at his home, I often noticed the presence of bread, instant noodles, and all kinds of snacks piled up on the table.

He was obese, with mental stress, and had an unhealthy diet, which may have led to his various health problems. People who regularly function as he did generally have higher blood lipids, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Had my friend not succumbed to an early heart attack, his unhealthy lifestyle may have led to atherosclerosis.

Causes and Consequences of Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which there is a build-up of plaques inside arteries. It is principally a lipid-driven process initiated by the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein and remnant lipoprotein particles and an active inflammatory process in focal areas of arteries, particularly at regions of disturbed non-laminar flow at branch points in the arteries.

Atherosclerosis is considered a primary cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease resulting in heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. According to NIH, Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of about 50 percent of all deaths in western society.

Ways to Prevent Atherosclerosis

Steps to fighting this disease include changing our sedentary lifestyle to include exercise. We also need to control our weight, improve our diet and reduce stress. Those with a family history of heart disease should be especially proactive in the maintenance of health.

Implementation of the above can help to prevent heart disease by properly regulating blood sugar, blood lipids, blood pressure, and weight.

Once the blood vessel wall has been damaged, platelets, clotting factors (such as fibrinogen and prothrombin) and cholesterol accumulate at the site, resulting in blockage of the blood vessels. Myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when the heart’s blood vessels are constricted. A blocked blood vessel in the brain is a cerebral infarction, which causes necrosis of brain tissue.

Fortunately, eating berries can help clear blood clots. There are a variety of berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries that in addition to lowering cholesterol, improve the function of the arteries. Blueberries, in particular, are rich in vitamins, fiber, trace elements, and antioxidants such as polyphenols.

Blueberries Lower Inflammation and Prevent Heart Disease

A study on blueberries and cardiovascular risk factors in obese men and women was published in 2010 in “The Journal of Nutrition.” The study divided people into two groups. One group was given blueberry juice made from 50 grams of frozen blueberries and 350 grams of fresh blueberries every day for eight weeks. The control group was given water to drink. At weeks four and eight of the experiment, the researchers measured the participant’s blood glucose, blood lipids, and various inflammatory markers. The data showed that the blueberry drinkers had lower lipid peroxidation and lower inflammation responses.

Why do blueberries have such a beneficial effect? Scientists have found that blueberries can reduce the inflammatory response through antioxidant effects, and reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels by affecting the metabolism and transport of cholesterol. Blueberries can also protect endothelial cells by affecting the function of vascular endothelial cells.

Damage to endothelial cells is the main cause of infarction—once the blood vessel wall is broken, anything can be deposited in it, not only cholesterol. Thus, myocardial infarction is caused by more than just high cholesterol.

What is the cause of damage to the blood vessel wall? High blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic inflammation can damage the blood vessel walls. The good news is that blueberries can improve all of these conditions.

Blueberries can also improve the role of intestinal flora, and act as a probiotic to help adjust the flora of our intestines. The health of our intestinal tract is very important. If the intestinal flora is imbalanced, it can cause intestinal leakage, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream.

Remember to add blueberries and other berries to your diet to improve the health of your heart.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

Dr. Jingduan Yang is a faculty member at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, former assistant professor of psychiatry, and director of the Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture Program at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He completed a research fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology at Oxford University, residency training in psychiatry at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and a Bravewell Fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. You can find out more about Dr. Yang at his website www.YangInstitute.com.
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