Blueberries on oat porridge

Bilberries and oats in study with heart patients

​Bilberries and oats are already proven to be healthy for your heart. But do you get an additional positive effect if you combine them? This will now be investigated in a large study, which includes 900 heart attack patients.
Researchers from Chalmers, in collaboration with clinics in Örebro, Karlstad, Lund and Umeå, will after the summer launch a study, where patients with acute myocardial infarction will be recruited for a diet trial. The patients will be given bilberries – the kind of blueberries that grow in Sweden – and oats.
“They are recruited within five days after undergoing balloon dilation in connection with their infarction. The procedure usually takes place immediately when they arrive at the hospital, or within a couple of days”, says Rikard Landberg, Professor at Chalmers’ division of Food and Nutrition Science, and adds:
“It is important to know that this is not an alternative treatment, but of course an addition to the standard medical treatment they will receive by their care givers”.

Healthy but in different ways

No previous study has been performed on the combination of oats and bilberries. But their separate health effects have been shown, and the effects of bilberries have been investigated in a pilot study by the research group involved in the new trial.
“We were able to demonstrate great effects, even though the patients were already on drug treatment. This is what stimulated us to design this study”, says Rikard Landberg.
Oats and bilberries seem to have positive effects on risk factors via different body mechanisms. Dietary fibre in oats has well-known cholesterol-lowering effects, and certain polyphenols in bilberries – substances that give the berry its color, taste and smell – have positive effects on blood pressure, as the polyphenols have both a vasodilating and an anti-inflammatory effect. That is why the researchers believe that the two together can give a synergy effect, or at least an added effect.

Individualized treatment a goal

The cholesterol levels, but also other metabolic risk factors of the 900 patients, will be monitored. Stool tests will show if the intestinal bacterial flora is affected, and if it modifies the effect of bilberries and oats on the risk factors studied. The research team will also follow metabolites, the body’s markers in the blood, to possibly find specific molecules that can be linked to the individual’s response to the dietary supplement. Bilberries​ are compared to oats, the combination of bilberries and oats in a special made beverage (picture), and to a placebo product.
“Our study opens up for a more specific, individualized preventive treatment of people who have had a myocardial infarction”, Rikard Landberg says.

Food an important factor

He is hoping for preliminary results in 2023. And Rikard Landberg is happy to be able to contribute to future evidence-based additional treatment and prevention for a large group of patients:
“Each year, a large number of individuals suffer heart attacks. Eating habits are one of the most important factors, but as of today, we lack evidence to show how we should relate to this. This research is an example where we from Chalmers can contribute with specific competence and experience, while we also must collaborate with medical expertise as the study is performed on patients. Together, I hope we can contribute to future improved healthcare for myocardial infarction patients”, he concludes.

Text: Mia Malmstedt
Photo: Shutterstock, Annika Söderpalm (picture of Rikard Landberg), Rikard Fristedt (picture of the beverage used in the study)

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Jun 2021.