Slash your risk of heart attack by a third with this fruit

It's the kind of "prescription" I love to write. "Eat a bowl of these and you won't need to call an ambulance tonight...or me in the morning."

If you guessed that the bowl was chock full of statins, well, I’m actually not talking about a drug at all, I’m talking about berries. A new study published in the journal Circulation has found that eating at least three servings of strawberries and blueberries a week can lower heart attack risk in women by an astounding one third!

32 percent lower heart attack risk!

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the U.K. teamed up for a study involving 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 who were registered with the Nurses' Health Study II.

Every four years for 18 years, the women completed detailed questionnaires about what they ate. It turns out that the ladies who had a fondness for blueberries and strawberries...eating at least three servings a week...had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack when compared to the women who ate the berries just once a month or less.

And before you ask, the answer is "yes," they did indeed take into account other risk factors that could have affected the results, like exercise, age, family history, smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and high blood pressure. And even then the findings still stood strong.

In fact, the difference in risk was still there even when the light- and non-berry eaters ate lots of other kinds of fruits and vegetables...making the argument for berry-eating an even stronger one.

Flavonoids fight heart disease

Now, we don't need to dig too deeply to figure out how those berries likely accomplished this impressive feat. As I've told you before, berries are brimming with heart-friendly compounds including healthy flavonoids. And, as you know, flavonoids are antioxidants that protect our cells against damage.

Berries are particularly rich in a special flavonoid called anthocyanins. If you've ever heard of the "French Paradox," these are the flavonoids that are often credited with this phenomenon.

According to researchers, heart-friendly anthocyanins may be the real key to the berries' abilities. It's believed that these special anti-inflammatory flavonoids help dilate arteries, reduce artery stiffness, and fight plaque buildup, making them a natural to lower heart attack risk.

If you don't happen to be a blueberry or strawberry fan, don't despair; there are other foods that are rich in anthocyanins. The list includes cherries, concord grapes, cranberries, bilberry, red onions, plums, black raspberry, muscadine grapes, red raspberry, red cabbage, blackberry, açaí fruit, red wine, blackcurrant, eggplant, black rice, and, for the more adventurous, purple corn and violet petals.

Oh, and if you're a guy, although this study was conducted on women, there's no reason to not believe the same or similar findings would apply to you as well. And since berries are good for all of us, regardless of our gender, we should all make them a part of our regular diet anyway. Just be sure the ones you pick are organic!