|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor
Being overweight is often associated with metabolic issues such as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. A recent study suggests that consuming either sea buckthorn berries or bilberries may notably improve the metabolic profiles of overweight women.
Participants in the study included 80 women who were classified as slightly overweight. During four 30 day intervention periods, the women consumed one each of the following: dried sea buckthorn berries, sea buckthorn oil, sea buckthorn phenolics ethanol extract mixed with maltodextrin, or frozen bilberries. Each intervention period was followed by a 30 day washout period.
The researchers measured the women’s metabolic profiles at the onset of the study and classified them as either high or low cardiometabolic risk. Cardiometabolic risk refers to the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Each of the supplements resulted in changes in the metabolic profiles of the women. The researchers noted improvements in triglycerides and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels in all the participants when they ate sea buckthorn berries. These improvements where greater for women in the higher risk group.
When the higher risk group consumed sea buckthorn oil, the researchers noted improvements in total, intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. No significant change was seen in the lower risk group.
The effects of the sea buckthorn extract plus maltodextrin, however, were associated with increaded VLDL and triglycerides in both groups. The researchers attributed this to the carbohydrate content of the supplement.
Bilberries, on the other hand, were associated with improvements in the lipid profiles of the higher risk women but made the lipid profiles of the lower risk women worse.
The researchers noted that none of these results were statistically significant but that obvious trends were present and more research needs to be done in order to discover the potential health benefits of both sea buckthorn berries and bilberries.
Researchers from the University of Turku, the University of Oulu, and Aromtech in Finland conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 14, 2013, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Previous studies have shown that bilberries may also be effective at reducing inflammation in our bodies and improving eye health. Sea buckthorn is a shrub that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbiological properties, and has been used for the treatment of skin diseases and digestive tract issues.
Previous studies have suggested that sea buckthorn may be effective in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, regulating blood sugar and reducing the risk of diabetes and possibly even some cancers.