Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and inflammation can also be fought… by eating! Oh yes, because there are foods that can help thanks to their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content, helping to burn more fat, improving metabolic processes and blood vessel elasticity and even protecting the liver. Today we are talking about some special fruits that boast these properties, exposing the results of two recent scientific studies.
Berries against metabolic syndrome
The first research is the result of a collaboration between Italian scientists, from the University of Milan, and American scientists, from the University of Maine. The study was published a few weeks ago in the journal Nutrients and dealt with comparing and evaluating data from previous studies in order to analyze the action of berries to prevent and counteract metabolic syndrome (Venturi et al, Nutrients, Apr 2023). Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a series of metabolic alterations associated with health risk. In particular, we are in the presence of metabolic syndrome when at least three of the following factors appear, namely excessive accumulation of visceral fat with a waist circumference higher than 88 cm for women and 102 cm for men, triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dL, good HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women, hypertension, with blood pressure above 130/85 mmHg, and elevated blood sugar above 100 mg/L. All these factors, both individually and together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, inflammation and circulating free radicals. Lifestyle and nutrition play an essential role when it comes to counteracting the metabolic syndrome. Among various foods, berries have attracted attention for their richness in antioxidants, such as vitamin C, anthocyanins and other polyphenols. Not only that, berries provide fiber, which increases the sense of satiety and helps reduce the absorption of fats and sugars, and mineral salts, such as potassium, for blood pressure control. Well, according to research, the main berries useful against metabolic syndrome and the damage associated with it are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and chokeberries. In particular, 150 grams of fresh, or frozen, blueberries, taken as part of a large meal rich in fats and sugars, have been able to reduce the increase in blood sugar and total cholesterol. At the same time, blueberries increased the good HDL cholesterol. Even a smoothie prepared with yogurt and blueberries has been shown to effectively counteract free radical damage and inflammation and improve the function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels and the heart. Raspberries and strawberries have also been shown to reduce circulating pro-inflammatory substances and total cholesterol. Chokeberry intake has made it possible to counteract hypertension and reduce body weight, but also cholesterol and triglycerides, even in the case of obesity and in the presence of diabetes.
Sea buckthorn burns more fat
The second research was published in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Chinese team (Wang et al, Nutrients, 2022). The study focused on the ability of sea buckthorn to fight obesity. The fruits of sea buckthorn, scientific name Hippophae rhamnoides L, are drupes with antioxidant, immunomodulatory, anti-aging and anticancer action. The study took place in the laboratory on a population of mice fed a high-fat diet. Some of the mice also ate sea buckthorn powder. Well, what emerged is that sea buckthorn was able to reverse the process activated by the high-fat diet, counteracting weight gain and reducing fat mass and circulating lipids and improving insulin sensitivity. Not only that, sea buckthorn improved fatty liver disease and stimulated thermogenesis, the process that leads to the body producing heat from adipose tissue, thus leading to more fat burning.
The research we talked about today shows that some small measures can help us protect our health and fight potentially harmful conditions, such as hypertension, hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, obesity, fatty liver disease and inflammation. We can include berries in our daily diet, even in the frozen version when it's not in season, in the form of smoothies or added to yogurt. Nor should we forget sea buckthorn, perhaps less known than berries but equally beneficial. And then nowadays the sea buckthorn is easily available in specialized shops, supermarkets and online, both in the form of a powder to add to yoghurts and smoothies and as a juice.