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Crop Biotech Update

Blueberry Effects on Cholesterol Examined in Lab Animal Study

June 3, 2011

Investigations conducted in the USDA-ARS laboratory at the Western Regional Research Center focused on the effect of blueberry juice by-products on the plasma cholesterol of hamsters. Blueberry skins, fiber extracted from peels, or juice extracted from peels were fed to hamsters and the levels of total plasma cholesterol and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) – a bad cholesterol were observed, as well as the genes responsible for these effects in the liver.

Wallace Yokohama, a USDA chemist and his co-investigator found that there was about a 44 percent lowering of VLDL and 22 to 27 percent lower total plasma cholesterol in blueberry by-products-fed hamsters. In addition, using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, differences in the level of activity of certain liver genes were observed. 

Future research will focus on the identification of the compounds in blueberry which trigger this reduced cholesterol levels, as well as to see whether a similar phenomenon occurs in humans. 

The news article can be viewed at  http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/110531.htm.