Berry Consumption in Relation to Allostatic Load in US Adults: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2010

Li Zhang, Joshua E. Muscat, Vernon M. Chinchilli, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Laila Al-Shaar, John P. Richie

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Introduction: Berries are a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols and other nutrients that are associated with good health. Allostatic load (AL) is an aggregate measure of chronic stress-induced physiological dysregulations across cardiovascular, metabolic, autonomic, and immune systems; the extent of these dysregulations, collectively or in each system, can be characterized by a composite score or a domain score assessed by integrated biomarkers. It was hypothesized that the anti-inflammatory and other effects of berries lower AL. The association was determined between berry consumption and AL composite and domain scores in the 2003–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Methods: Berry intake was measured using two 24 h dietary recalls collected from US adults in the 2003–2010 NHANES (n = 7684). The association with AL and its specific domains was examined using population weight-adjusted multivariable linear regression. Results: The mean AL composite scores for consumers of any berries (11.9), strawberries (11.6), and blueberries (11.6), respectively, were significantly lower than nonconsumers (12.3), after fully adjusting for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and dietary confounders. A significant dose-response relationship was determined between greater consumption of total berries, strawberries, and blueberries and lower mean AL composite scores (p-trend < 0.05, for all). Consistently, mean cardiovascular and metabolic domain scores remained significantly lower in the consumers of total berries (mean cardiovascular domain score: 4.73 versus 4.97 for nonconsumers; mean metabolic domain score: 2.97 versus 3.1), strawberries (4.73 versus 4.95; 2.99 versus 3.1), and blueberries (4.6 versus 4.95; 2.92 versus 3.11). Berry consumers also had significantly lower mean AL immune scores (1.52 versus 1.56) and lower mean AL autonomic scores (2.49 versus 2.57) than nonconsumers (initial sample: n = 15,620). Conclusions: The current study indicates that consumption of berries lowers the AL composite scores and potentially reduces stress-related disease risks in the US adult population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number403
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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