It has been suggested that anthocyanin-rich foods may exert antioxidant effects and improve vascular function as demonstrated mainly in vitro and in the animal model. Blueberries are rich sources of anthocyanins and researchers form Milan University, together with Danish and American colleagues, hypothesized that their intake could improve cell protection against oxidative stress and affect endothelial function in humans.
The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of one portion (300 g) of blueberries on selected markers of oxidative stress and antioxidant protection (endogenous and oxidatively induced DNA damage) and of vascular function (changes in peripheral arterial tone and plasma nitric oxide levels) in male subjects. In a randomized cross-over design, separated by a wash out period ten young volunteers received one portion of blueberries ground by blender or one portion of a control jelly.
Before and after consumption (at 1, 2, and 24 hours), blood samples were collected and used to evaluate anthocyanin absorption (through mass spectrometry), endogenous and H2O2-induced DNA damage in blood mononuclear cells (through the comet assay), and plasma nitric oxide concentrations (through a fluorometric assay). Peripheral arterial function was assessed by means of Endo-PAT 2000.
Blueberries significantly reduced (P < .01) H2O2-induced DNA damage (−18%) 1 hour after blueberry consumption compared to control. No significant differences were observed for endogenous DNA damage, peripheral arterial function and nitric oxide levels after blueberry intake. In conclusion, one portion of blueberries seems sufficient to improve cell antioxidant defense against DNA damage, but further studies are necessary to understand their role on vascular function.