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   Jan 24

Could this berry mean you can eat junk food guilt free? Lingonberries ‘halt the effects of high-fat diet’

Eating lingonberries could prevent weight gain in people with a high-fat diet

They could also help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels

In contrast, eating the ‘super berry’ acai can lead to weight gain

The researchers say people should not see the findings as an excuse to eat an unhealthy diet just because they also eat some lingonberries

Everyone dreams of being able to eat chocolate and pizza all day without putting on a pound.

Now researchers could have found a simple way of making this dream a reality.

Scientists in Sweden found eating lingonberries could prevent weight gain in people with a high-fat diet.

Eating lingonberries could prevent weight gain in people with a high-fat diet, new research suggests

The researchers, at Lund University, discovered the berries almost completely prevent weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet.

They discovered the Scandinavian berries – which are sometimes known as cowberries in the UK – also lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

However, their results also showed the ‘super berry’ acai can lead to weight gain.

The research team conducted their study using a type of mouse that easily stores fat and, therefore, can be regarded as a model for humans who are overweight and at risk of diabetes.

Some of the mice were fed a low-fat diet, while the majority of the animals were fed a diet high in fat.

They were then divided into groups, where all except a control group were fed a type of berry – lingonberry, bilberry, raspberry, crowberry, blackberry, prune, blackcurrant or acai berry.

Lingonberries can also help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels

When the mice were compared after three months, it could be observed that the lingonberry group had by far the best results.

The mice that had eaten lingonberries had not put on more weight than the mice that had eaten a low-fat diet – and their blood sugar and insulin readings were also similar to those of the ‘low-fat’ mice.

Their cholesterol levels and levels of fat in the liver were also lower than those of the animals who received a high-fat diet without any berries.

However, according to the Lund University researchers, people should not see the findings as an excuse to eat an unhealthy diet.

Lovisa Heyman told MailOnline: ‘While the findings in mice are exciting, it should absolutely not be interpreted as a license to eat an unhealthy diet as long as you add lingonberries!

‘But we certainly hope to investigate if lingonberries could be part of dietary strategies to prevent obesity also in humans.’

This is the first study of this kind using lingonberries.

‘That is probably because lingonberries are mainly eaten in Scandinavia. At international conferences, I always have to start by explaining what they are, and showing the audience a jar of them,’ said Ms Heyman, a PhD student in Experimental Medical Science.

Blackcurrants and bilberries also produced good effects, although not as pronounced as the lingonberries.

The acai berries, on the other hand, came last, although they had actually been included in the study for the opposite reason – the researchers wanted to see how well the Nordic berries would do in comparison with the Brazilian ‘super berry’.

‘Instead, the opposite happened. In our study, the acai berries led to weight gain and higher levels of fat in the liver,’ said Karin Berger, diabetes researcher at Lund University.

Lingonberries ‘halt the effects of high-fat diet’

She believes that acai berries are primarily used as an energy supplement in their homeland, Brazil. The good results from lingonberries may be due to their polyphenol content, according to the researchers.

The team will now continue to work on understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the effect of lingonberries. They will also see whether the effect can be observed in humans.

‘Up to 20 per cent of our mice’s diet was lingonberries. It isn’t realistic for humans to eat such a high proportion.

‘However, the goal is not to produce such dramatic effects as in the “high-fat” mice, but rather to prevent obesity and diabetes by supplementing a more normal diet with berries,’ said Dr Berger.

Eating the ‘super berry’ acai can actually lead to weight gain, the researchers found

However, the Lund researchers do not recommend people start eating large quantities of lingonberry jam.

Boiling the berries can affect their nutrient content and jam contains a lot of sugar. Frozen lingonberries on cereal or in a smoothie are considerably better.

‘If anyone wonders – yes, we now eat lingonberries on a regular basis,’ said Ms Heyman.

Lingonberries are edible fruit that are native to forests and tundra in northern Europe and North America.

They are very popular in Sweden and are commercially cultivated in some parts of the U.S.

They are most commonly used in jams, compotes, juices, smoothies and syrups.

In the UK, they are not normally available in supermarkets but can be bought from IKEA and some specialist stores.

Source: Daily Mail

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