Surprising Benefits of Blueberries
By Leo Galland, M.D
You know that blueberries are good for you. But did you know that blueberries could help fight aging, combat disease, lower blood pressure, protect the heart and brain and even boost your memory?
Intensive research by scientists working in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia continues to reveal the amazing health benefits of blueberries.
Photo courtesy: hivehealthmedia
Blueberries are divided into two major species: the wild ones, which are called "low bush," and the farmed berries that are "high bush." Both types have received a great deal of favorable attention from scientists over the past several years.
Blueberries boost memory
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center achieved very interesting results when they studied the connection between blueberries and memory. Their study on older adults with early memory decline found that memory function was boosted by drinking the juice of wild blueberries for 12 weeks. The University of Cincinnati researchers noted: "To our knowledge, this is the first human trial assessing the potential benefit of blueberry supplementation on neurocognitive function in older adults with increased risk for dementia."
It should be noted that this study involved a small group who consumed blueberry juice with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Given the interest in finding solutions to the growing problem of cognitive decline in aging, larger studies on blueberries and the mind should follow.
Learn more about keeping the mind healthy in "Benefits of walking for brain health."
What gives blueberries their nutritional power
Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber. The color of blueberries, from deep blue to purple, is caused by a group of flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have remarkable antioxidant power.
Laboratory tests suggest that anthocyanins may help to prevent degenerative diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and memory loss.
Blueberry anthocyanins may protect humans and animals from the effects of a condition known as oxidative stress, which underlies the common disorders associated with aging. Oxidative stress increases with high fat meals and with exposure to environmental toxins.
Learn more about the benefits of anthocyanins in "Cherry Season: Fight Pain and Inflammation."
Blueberries support heart health
Recent research supported by the United States Department of Agriculture-Research, Education and Economics shows that eating blueberries may help combat cardiovascular disease.
Scientists at the University of Arkansas fed mice a diet enhanced with blueberry powder, and found that it helped reduce atherosclerosis.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of Nutrition, the researchers indicate that the benefit may be from the antioxidant effect of the blueberries, reducing the oxidative stress that leads to heart disease.
Learn more about this fascinating study, in English and Spanish, here: "Nature's Little Blue "Pills" Fight Heart Disease."
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