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A combined pineapple and berry supplement improves vascular function.

Cardiovascular disease is a major public health threat, with deaths from cardiovascular diseases expected to reach 23 million by 2030. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is known to reduce heart disease risk, in part due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds provided by the diet that reduce oxidative stress and improve vascular function. Findings from a new report show that a supplement containing bromelain and anthocyanin antioxidants improves blood vessel function and muscle oxygenation.

Bromelain is a compound found in pineapple that breaks down protein, called a protease. In the kitchen, bromelain is used to tenderize meat, but in the medical field, topically applied bromelain is an approved treatment to promote wound healing. Research shows that bromelain has anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties that may improve vascular function and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Anthocyanins are blue- and purple-colored pigments found in fruits and vegetables that absorb free radicals in the blood stream, reduce inflammation, and reduce blood pressure.

The authors recruited 18 healthy adults who engaged in regular recreational physical activity and randomly assigned them to receive either a placebo or a supplement containing 465 milligrams of hawthorn extract (source of anthocyanins), 480 milligrams of tart cherry powder (source of anthocyanins), and 400 milligrams of bromelain. One hour after the participants consumed the treatment, the researchers measured heart rate, blood pressure, flow mediated dilation (a measure of endothelial function), muscle oxygenation, and muscle fatigue and collected a blood sample. The participants returned two weeks after their first visit and repeated the same testing after receiving the treatment (placebo or anthocyanin+bromelain) they did not receive the first time.

The anthocyanin+bromelain supplement led to a marked increase in total serum antioxidant capacity. Participants consuming the active supplement experienced a statistically significant increase in flow mediated dilation and reduction in systolic blood pressure. The anthocyanin+bromelain supplement increased muscle oxygenation during a leg extension exercise, but did not affect diastolic blood pressure, resting heart tate, or muscle fatigue.

These results show that supplementation with anthocyanins and bromelain acutely improves vascular function in healthy adults; however, additional research is needed to understand the long-term effects of supplementation on cardiovascular disease risk.

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