Lab hamsters fed with rations spiked with blueberry peels and leftovers from the berry`s juice had better cholesterol health than normal counterparts.
Hamsters are members of the rodent order of mammals, including guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, squirrels, and beavers used in lab studies.
Wallace H. Yokoyama, chemist at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), under US Department of Agriculture (USDA), pointed out that more research is needed to confirm whether the effects would hold true for humans, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports.
Researchers fed hamsters high-fat rations. Those rations were supplemented with one of three different kinds of juice byproducts: blueberry skins, peels left over when berries are pressed to make juice; fibre extracted from the peels; compounds known as polyphenols.
Blueberry polyphenols give the fruit its purple, blue, and red colouration. Yokoyama and co-investigators reported that all the hamsters fed blueberry-enhanced rations had from 22 to 27 per cent lower total plasma cholesterol than hamsters fed rations without blueberry byproducts.
Levels of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein - a form of "bad" cholesterol) were about 44 per cent lower in the blueberry-fed hamsters, according to an ARS statement.
Yokoyama and his team used real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, to learn about the genes responsible for these effects. This approach allowed the scientists to pinpoint differences in the level of activity of certain liver genes.
In hamsters and in humans the liver both makes cholesterol and helps get rid of excessive levels of it. Results suggest that activity of some liver genes that either produce or use cholesterol resulted in the lower blood cholesterol levels.