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Polyphenols are known to increase the body’s nitric oxide levels, resulting in heart-healthy effects, such as relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure. They may also be an important factor in preserving bone density after the menopause, according to research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The human body breaks down bones regularly in order to rebuild them. During the menopause, when levels of estrogen are decreased, bone loss can occur as a result of the breakdown outpacing bone formation, putting the individual at risk of osteoporosis.

This study fed blueberries to rats that had had their ovaries removed daily for three months. After the trial period, their bone density was significantly increased, proving the positive effects of the berries’ polyphenols.

In addition to these benefits, berries are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene and lutein, which are all key for maintaining your health and fighting diseases.

Antioxidants are proven to protect against free radical damage to your body’s cells. Free radical molecules are produced after contact with environmental toxins, for example tobacco smoke, and can increase your risk of cancer or heart disease, showing just how important it is to take precautions against their effects.

Fruit smoothies are also an easy way to consume fiber, helping you reach the recommended amount (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men). The fiber found in fruits is soluble and can help to slow digestion, help manage your blood sugar and lower your levels of cholesterol.

The drinks could also be used as part of a balanced weight loss regimen by replacing a meal or snack with a nutrition packed smoothie. A milk based smoothie full of fruits and vegetables could make an ideal breakfast, while a lighter, water based mix may be great at snack time. It’s important to visit a doctor or nutritionist before committing to any long-term dietary changes, so make an appointment to talk over your options before omitting meals in favour of smoothies.