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Blueberries are an amazing food, low in calories and rich in nutrients. They're also effective at improving heart health. Research presented at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Philadelphia last August documented the cholesterol-fighting effects of pterostilbene, the active phytonutrient in blueberries.

The Amazing Blueberry

Blueberries are an amazing food, low in calories and rich in nutrients. They're also effective at improving heart health. Research presented at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Philadelphia last August documented the cholesterol-fighting effects of pterostilbene, the active phytonutrient in blueberries.

This phytonutrient may have health effects similar to resveratrol, the antioxidant identified in grapes and red wine, which is also believed to lower cholesterol.

"Other researchers have found pterostilbene in grapes, but this is the first time it has been found in blueberries," says Agnes Rimando, PhD, a research chemist with the US Department of Agriculture.

She and her  associates had previously studied 10 species of native Vaccinium berry bushes and found resveratrol in both lowbush (Vaccinium angustifolium) and highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) blueberries.

Now the discovery of the presence of pterostilbene makes blueberries an even better choice for those who need to lower cholesterol levels.

Rimando's work involved laboratory studies that applied pterostilbene to rat liver cells to activate a specific receptor, which in turn plays a role in reducing cholesterol.

Until studies are conducted in humans, Rimando cautions, no one knows how many blueberries a person needs to eat to have a positive effect at lowering cholesterol. However, her study adds to a growing list of health benefits attributed to this fruit, which comes into season this month.

Broccoli The Power Sprout

One way to get your dose of anticancer properties and antioxidants is to eat broccoli sprouts. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found a highly concentrated source of sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane, a compound that allows cancer-preventing enzymes to be produced in the body, was discovered in an earlier study by Dr. Paul Talalay, professor of pharmacology, and his research team. Their research revealed that broccoli sprouts have 20 to 50 times the amount of chemo-protective compounds (sulforaphane) found in mature broccoli heads.

Broccoli sprouts contain vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, and chlorophyll. They consist of 45 percent protein the highest amount of all sprouts. Similar in appearance to alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts have a mild, nutty flavour and can be added to sandwiches, salads, juices, soups, and appetizers. Most health food stores carry these nutritious sprouts.

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