Background: Low-grade metabolic inflammation and hypertension are primary mechanisms involved in obesity-associated adverse health effects. Berries, especially Nordic wild blueberries (hereafter referred to as bilberries), represent an important source of dietary anthocyanins, a group of polyphenols with potential beneficial effects to combat obesity-associated metabolic disturbances.
Methods: The effects of 5% or 10% (w/w) of whole bilberries (BB) were studied on the development of obesity and its metabolic disturbances in C57BL mice fed with a high-fat diet (HFD) for three months. Cytokines, inflammatory cells, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, weight gain, body fat, food consumption and energy metabolism were assessed.
Results: Bilberries ameliorated type 1 pro-inflammatory responsiveness induced by HFD. This was indicated by the altered cytokine profile and the reduced prevalence of interferon gamma -producing T-cells, in particular T helper type 1 cells. Bilberries also prevented the progression of obesity associated long term increase in systolic blood pressure in mice.
Conclusions: Bilberries reduce the development of systemic inflammation and prevent the progression of chronic hypertension, thus supporting their potential role in alleviating the adverse health effects associated with developing obesity.