The results of this study by researchers in Finland are important because they reflect actual risk factors for heart disease.

First, the details.

  • 72 middle-aged unmedicated people with cardiovascular risk factors were randomly assigned to eat berries or no berries for 8 weeks.
    • Every other day, whole bilberries (100 g) and a nectar containing 50 g crushed lingonberries (photo) were consumed.
    • Black currant or strawberry puree (100 g, containing 80% black currants) and cold-pressed chokeberry and raspberry juice (0.7 dL juice, containing 80% chokeberry) were consumed on the alternating days.
  • The researchers were unaware of the treatment given — single blind.

And, the results.

  • Eating berries significantly inhibited platelet function.
  • Platelet activation, coagulation, and fibrinolysis (disintegration of the clotting factor, fibrin) did not change.
  • HDL (good) cholesterol increased significantly in the berry group vs. placebo (5.2% and 0.6%, respectively).
  • Total cholesterol didn’t change.
  • Systolic blood pressure decreased significantly.
    • The increase was greatest in those with the highest blood pressure at the start of the study (7.3 mmHg).
  • Polyphenol and vitamin C blood levels increased.
  • Folate, tocopherols, sodium, and potassium were unchanged.
  • There was no change in the rest of the participants’ diets.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The consumption of moderate amounts of berries resulted in favorable changes in platelet function, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure. The results indicate that regular consumption of berries may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”

It appears that the berries included in this study reflect the taste of Finlanders.

5/4/09 19:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.