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Fruit may help cut heart attack risk in women

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Fruit may help cut heart attack risk in women
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If fruit is a big part of your diet you could be reaping some heart healthy benefits. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, a new study released by the American Heart Association says women who eat three or more servings of two kinds of berries can help lower their risk of heart disease.

UNITED STATES -- When Lisa Mascato was just 25-years-old, she suffered a heart attack.

"My right coronary artery was closed 100 percent in two different spots and so I had two stints placed to open that up,” said Lisa Mascato, a Cincinnatus resident.

Mascato says after that, she completely revamped her diet.

"I love fruits and vegetables. I have a four-year-old who I needed to make sure she picks up healthier eating habits as well,” said Mascato.” So it wasn’t a difficult transition."

Now a new study released by the American Heart Association says women who eat three or more servings of strawberries and blueberries per week could reduce their heart attack risk by as much as one-third.

"We have this one study that says here’s two fruits that seem to be beneficial. The take-home message is it’s about a healthy diet,” said Jennifer Wegmann, American Heart Association Volunteer and BU Lecturer.

Out of more than 90,000 women studied, all between the ages of 25 and 42, 405 suffered heart attacks. However, the women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 percent reduction in their heart attack risk. Researchers say the fruit contains high levels of compounds that may help open arteries, offset plaque buildup and offer other cardiovascular benefits.

"Just like in wine, we think the pigments in the grapes have something to do in the heart health protective factor it has,” said Pamela Stewart Fahs, RN, DSN, BU Professor of Nursing.

Health experts say it’s easy to incorporate berries into your diet. But if the ones you see at the supermarket don’t seem very fresh or if they’re out of season, don’t disregard frozen or canned fruits.

"We tend to think that fresh is the best and research is showing us now that canned fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious, sometimes more nutritious than the ones we buy on the shelves in the grocery store,” said Wegmann.

Mascato says people need to know that it’s never too early to start taking care of your heart, no matter how old you are.

The American Heart Association says blueberries and strawberries were picked for the study because they are the most eaten berries in the United States. Still, they suggest talking to your doctor first before making any dietary changes.

For more information on the study, visit newsroom.heart.org.

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