When it comes to preventing heart disease and keeping your blood vessels healthy, there is nothing that can match regular exercise and a diet high in green leafy vegetables. But now some new research out of Korea shows a simple way to add to the power of exercise and a good diet.
Researchers gave two sets of patients who had metabolic syndrome either 750 mg/day of an extract or a placebo for 12 weeks. They measured the participants’ blood pressure, vascular stiffness, circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) (cells that help rebuild damaged arteries), and inflammation markers at the beginning and end of the study.
Those who took the extract had much better results than their counterparts in the placebo group. Their vascular stiffness and inflammation decreased. Their EPC levels went up. Even better, levels of a hormone called adiponectin, which helps regulate metabolic processes, went way up. Overall, the cardiovascular health of the participants who took the extract significantly improved.
So what was in this magic elixir? It wasn’t fish oil, kale, or quinoa. It was black raspberry extract! Black raspberries are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and this study helped prove their efficacy in reducing cardiovascular disease risk.
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Other studies have found that black raspberries can improve blood pressure and lipid profiles as well as increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide. As you may know, this is an important factor in cardiovascular health. The anthocyanins in the black raspberries, which give them their dark purple color, provide powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and are also the powerhouses behind other nutritional superstars, such as blueberries, cherries, grapes, and other dark-red or purple fruits and vegetables.
I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely rather be told to eat some berries than to eat more spinach (though you shouldn’t stop eating your greens, of course – in fact, a berry spinach salad is delicious!). While this particular study in Korea used an extract, other researchers have obtained similar results from having participants eat the berries themselves. And I think that’s the easiest – and tastiest – way to go. Just try to find organic black raspberries, as conventional berries are often heavily sprayed with pesticides.
And if you really want to bring all the heart-healthy benefits out of them, you can pair black raspberries with CircO2. That will make sure you have plenty of nitric oxide for the black raspberries to pass along to your arteries!
Frank Shallenberger, MD