Superfoods – Blueberries lower cholesterol

Dr Paul Clayton 2004


A compound identified in blueberries called pterostilbene has been shown to lower cholesterol levels just as effectively as do the statins. It does this by activating cells in the liver, encouraging them to remove more cholesterol from the blood stream. Following this report(1), a number of food companies announced the pending launches of new foods containing blueberry extract, which will compete in the market with other cholesterol-lowering products such as the spreads and yoghurts that contain sterol and stannol esters.

Lowering your own cholesterol with foods seems an attractive option, particularly given the rather nasty sideeffects linked with the statins which our government is happy to sell over the counter; but when you look at the detail, the picture is rather odd. To begin with, the old cholesterol story is dying out; high cholesterol levels are not very good at predicting the risk of vascular disease, and low cholesterol levels are not very protective. The emphasis has definitively shifted to endothelial dysfunction, a chronic inflammation of the blood vessels.

Luckily, blueberries (and grapes, blackcurrants and elderberries) also contain a variety of flavonoids that are extremely good at damping down inflammation in the arteries and veins. The moral is, don’t wait for the fancy blueberry-enhanced foods to arrive – just keep on eating berries.