Cabbage pudding with mincemeat. A traditional meaty dish that might benefit from the fat-fighting lingon berry. Photo: Anne Marchal/Sveriges Radio

Lingonberries have fat-fighting effect on mice

3:13 min

A study on mice suggests that Sweden's popular lingonberries might help balance the harmful effects of fatty food.

Researchers at Lund University gave mice either low-fat or high-fat food. And some got various berries on the side, including the so-called "super berry" açaí, from Brazil. But it was Sweden's own lingonberry that surprised the scientists, when its effect was strongest by far.

Some traditional Swedish dishes involve fatty foods like bacon eaten together with the sour, red, lingonberries.

"When we started to see that it, above all, protected against weight gain, it was very exciting," says Lovisa Heyman, molecular biologist at Lund. She says to Swedish Radio they thought it would be other berries that would have this effect, not lingon.

The scientists tested the food on a species of mouse that puts on weight in a way that makes it comparable to humans, with weight problems and a risk of diabetes.

"The mice that got lingon were not fat, they had lower blood sugar, which was not as insulin resistant, and they had less inflammation in their bodies."

Blackcurrants and blueberries also had a positive effect, but not as much as lingon. And the Brazilian açaí berry actually had a negative effect on the mice.

Researcher Karin Berger says the mice that ate lingonberries put on 20 percent less weight. She says the next step is to study the effect of this diet on humans.

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