Prevention of Atherosclerosis by Berries: The Case of Blueberries

Xianli Wu, Thomas T Y Wang, Ronald L Prior, Pamela R Pehrsson
J Agric Food Chem . 2018 Sep 5;66(35):9172-9188.

Berry consumption has been associated with cardiovascular disease prevention in recent years. Atherosclerosis is one of the major causes of cardiovascular diseases. However, research on the prevention of atherosclerosis through consuming individual whole berries, specifically direct evidence, remains scarce. Therefore, further elucidating the role that berries play in the prevention of atherosclerosis is warranted. In this perspective, blueberries were selected to articulate research strategies for studying atheroprotective effects of berries. Studies from human subjects and various animal models are summarized. The mechanisms by which blueberries may act, through reducing oxidative stress, decreasing inflammation, improving endothelial dysfunction, regulating cholesterol accumulation and trafficking, along with potentially influencing gut microbiota, are also discussed. Blueberries contain high levels of polyphenolic compounds, which were widely indicated as major bioactive compounds. Nonetheless, the metabolites/catabolites after blueberry consumption, such as simple phenolic acids, rather than original compounds in berries, may be the actual in vivo bioactive compounds. Future research should focus on obtaining more direct evidence, preferably in humans, understanding of the mechanisms of action at the molecular level, and identifying bioactive compounds as well as which compounds act synergistically to convey health benefits. The research strategy discussed here may also be applied to the studies of other fruits and berries.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; bioactive compounds; blueberries; cholesterol; endothelial function; gut microbiota; inflammation; oxidative stress.

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