Polyphenols may also help preserve bone density after menopause, according to new research in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Our bones are constantly “turning over”—breaking down and building back up. After menopause, when estrogen levels plummet, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation, and the result is bone loss, a risk factor for osteoporosis. In the study, rats that had their ovaries removed (to mimic an estrogen-deprived postmenopausal state) and were fed blueberries every day for three months significantly increased their bone density, scientists at Florida Study University discovered. “We believe that polyphenols in the berries slowed the rate [of bone turnover], ultimately saving bone,” says Bahram Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., the study’s lead author and professor and chair of the department of nutrition, food and exercise sciences at FSU. More research is needed to know for sure whether the benefits translate to humans but, says Arjmandi, the data suggest that eating even a small amount of blueberries each day—perhaps as little as 1⁄4 cup—could be good for anyone’s bones.
Bottom line: Dig into a variety of berries regularly to reap the “total body” benefits of their polyphenols.