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Cherry on top: Anthocyanin-rich foods linked to a healthier heart.

A new study has linked the consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Anthocyanins are red-pigmented flavonoids that give certain fruit and vegetables their rich red, purple and blue colors. They are found in berries, black soybean, black rice and cherries.

The study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition is a systematic review and analysis of 19 different studies. The researchers found that people who regularly consumed anthocyanin-rich foods had a 9 percent less chance of suffering from coronary heart disease and an 8 percent less chance of heart disease-related death.

Glyn Howatson of the Department of Sports Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University in the UK and his team reviewed the studies, that included data from 602,000 participants from the US, Europe and Australia, following them for 4 to 41 years.

“Evidence has been growing in recent years to suggest that these natural plant compounds might be especially valuable for promoting cardiovascular health. Our analysis is the largest, most comprehensive evaluation of the association between dietary anthocyanin intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Howatson.

Analysis of the results of the 19 studies revealed that the effects of anthocyanins benefit on the heart were higher in Americans, possibly because of their specific diets.

Approximately 84 million people in the US suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, causing about 2,200 deaths a day, averaging one death every 40 seconds.

It is estimated that an additional 8 million adults have undiagnosed diabetes and 87 million have pre-diabetes, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. Anthocyanin-rich foods may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular-related death and propose a possible solution to the number one cause of death for women worldwide.

The study was partially funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI), a not-for-profit organization funded by US tart cherry growers and processors. However, CMI claims to have had no role in the development of the questions, design, methodology or drafting, review and publication of the article.

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