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UEA seeks volunteers to test the power of blueberries

Tue, 07 Jan 2014

Scientists at The University of East Anglia (UEA) are seeking local men and postmenopausal women to help investigate if blueberries can improve aspects of health linked to heart disease and diabetes.

The six-month research study will test if daily consumption of one or two portions of freeze-dried blueberries improves heart health and insulin action in people with metabolic syndrome - a condition characterised by a larger waistline and raised blood sugar, blood fats and blood pressure and which is found in more than a quarter of UK adults.

This major international study is being run by leading scientists from UEA, Harvard University (USA) and the University of Cambridge. They are looking to recruit 144 generally healthy volunteers aged 50-75 years, who are overweight, non-smokers and not currently taking blood pressure lowering medication or hormone replacement therapies.

Prof Aedin Cassidy, who leads the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School at UEA, said: "Growing evidence suggests that regularly eating berries may be good for your heart and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. We are excited to be embarking on a trial to test this further and this study will help us to confirm if long term intake of blueberries can contribute to better health in people with metabolic syndrome."

Dr Eric Rimm from Harvard University said: "Eating more berries could have a significant effect on prevention efforts and this trial will provide us with the data we urgently need to develop dietary strategies to reduce the risk of heart disease. I am excited to be a part of this important study based at UEA."

Those who are interested in taking part in the study will be invited to come to the UEA to hear more about the study, before attending a screening visit to assess whether they have metabolic syndrome.

Suitable individuals will then be invited to take part, which involves consuming freeze-dried blueberries, or a placebo powder (containing no blueberries), for six months. A variety of health tests will take place at intervals during the study, with all participants reimbursed for travel, their time and level of involvement. Some dietary restrictions will be required, such as avoiding blueberries, during the study, but full instructions will be provided. The study cannot recruit people with a history of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

For more information on the study and eligibility, call 01603 592424 or email