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Berries good for the heart - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Berries good for the heart

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LOS ANGELES -

Kate Strachan has high blood pressure and cholesterol, putting her at risk for a heart attack.

The 42-year-old is doing what she can to control her risk factors, including watching what she eats. "Reducing sodium in particular, looking at packaging, checking the salt levels things that really surprise you," Strachan said.

Now a new study shows adding some berries to her diet could also help lower her chances of having a heart attack. Harvard researchers followed about 100-thousand women for nearly 20 years and found those who ate several servings of blueberries and strawberries every week lowered their chances of a heart attack 32-percent.

"Eating blueberries or strawberries more than three times a week reduced the risk," said Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin with Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Blueberries and strawberries have high levels of a natural compound called flavonoids, which can also be found in grapes and wine, eggplant and other fruits and vegetables.

"This class of food helps dilate the arteries and reduce inflammation in the arteries, therefore reducing heart attack rates," Dr. McLaughlin said.

The researchers say that blueberries and strawberries were part of this study because they are the most eaten berries in the United States. So, it's possible that other foods could have the same effect.

Kate Strachan has been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables and is planning on adding more blueberries and strawberries now. "It's definitely something that will be easier to work into the diet," she said.

She's also getting more exercise -- walking to work every day to keep her heart
healthy.

Teresa Garcia -- CBS News

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