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The Amazing Blueberry

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Blueberries are an amazing food, low in calories and rich in nutrients

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.

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