Health benefits of blueberries, from anti-aging properties to killing cancer cells and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes
Blueberries are an amazing superfood, especially for pregnant women and growing children. The antioxidant and flavonoids in blueberries can get rid of toxins and free radicals and have anti-aging properties. Toxins, heavy metals and free radicals can cause damage in cellular level and the powerful antioxidants in blueberries can prevent damage on the body cells.
The antioxidants in blueberries can strengthen your immune system and lower the damage to body caused by environmental toxins like polution, pesticides and chemicals in water. Flavonoids in most berries including blueberries are known as ‘anthocyanin’, and these compounds are the reason why blueberries have such a beautiful blue color.
Although all berries (including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries) are high in antioxidants, blueberries have the highest antioxidants compared to other fruits and vegetables. Here are the top health benefits of blueberries:
1. Anti-aging properties and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease:
For many years, many researchers and scientists have related aging with the ability of the body to cope with oxidative stress. Stress, smoking, lack of sleep, poor eating habits (a diet high on salt, sugar, and fat), drugs (pharmaceuticals or other drugs like marijuana), and exposure to environmental toxins and free radicals such as pesticides, herbicides and chemicals would increase the body’s sensitivity be effected by oxidative stressors.
The imbalances between oxidants and antioxidants in body can cause oxidative damage in cellular level and DNA. However, foods high in antioxidants (in particular all berries including blueberries) can significantly minimize the risk imposed by oxidative damage to your body.
Studies including the one published in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston shows that 6%, or 9% walnuts, have reverse brain aging properties, as well as age-related motor and cognitive deficits. In previous research, Dr James Joseph, PhD and his colleagues had found that a diet that contains 2% high in antioxidant from strawberry or blueberry extracts could reverse age-related deficits. According to reseaechers, the powerful antioxidants in blueberries wage war against molecules known as free radicals that can harm brain cells and brain function.
Other studies have shown that the antioxidants in Alaska’s wild berries can protect people against oxidative cell damage that can lead to conditions, such as chronic inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease.
Keep in mind that as much as antioxidants in blueberries can protect your body against damage of free radicals and toxins, extensive studies have concluded that a group of antioxidants can even work better together, and are so much more effective in fighting cancer and beating free radicals. In fact, to stay younger, feel younger, look younger and remain energetic all the way up to your 80’s, 90’s or even beyond, you want a diet filled with all the various groups of antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Vitamin E, Glutathione, Bioflavanoids, Lutein, Lycopene, Coenzyme Q10, Zinc, Copper, Managese, and Vitamin A: http://www.seattleorganicrestaurants.com/vegan-whole-food/stay-younger-live-longer.php
The rich source of phytochemicals in blueberries are called polyphenols and many studies including the one by researchers at the University of Maine published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, shows that having wild blueberries (long-term) could reduce the chances metabolic syndrome, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
According to Dr. Klimis-Zacas, a Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Maine and a co-author of this study "The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of risk factors characterized by obesity, hypertension, inflammation, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction. MetS affects an estimated 37% of adults in the US”.
"We have previously documented the cardiovascular benefits of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry in a rat model with impaired vascular health and high blood pressure," says Klimis-Zacas. "Our new findings show that these benefits extend to the obese Zucker rat, a widely used model resembling human MetS. Endothelial dysfunction is a landmark characteristic of MetS, and the obese Zucker rat, an excellent model to study the MetS, is characterized by vascular dysfunction. The vascular wall of these animals shows an impaired response to vasorelaxation or vasoconstriction which affects blood flow and blood pressure regulation."
In conclusion the study shows that wild blueberries can reduce chronic inflammation and improve the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with the MetS. Blueberries can also normalize oxidative, inflammatory response and endothelial function, and regular long-term wild blueberry diets may also help improve pathologies associated with the MetS.
Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health also found out that flavonoids found in strawberries and blueberries can reduce the risk of heart disease in women by one-third. According to researchers, three serving of strawberries and blueberries every week can significantly lower the chance of heart disease.
3. Killing cancer cells:
Many studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins could help to prevent the damage caused by free-radicals and toxins. In fact, according to a study published in the journal eCAM, the conventional medical treatments like radiotherapy induces cancer cells, while the natural antioxidants in blueberries kill and destroy cancer cells.
According to another study, the researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC), found out that strawberries, grapes, blueberries and some other seasonings like rosemary contain compounds that can kill and destroy cancer cells.
In another study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the researchers found out that antioxidants and phytonutrients in plums and blueberries can effectively destroy cancer cells.
4. Improving the immune system:
In a research, scientists at Oregon State University discovered that compound known as resveratrol found in red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene found in blueberries have the ability to boost the immune system.
According to researchers, resveratrol found in red grapes and pterostilbene found in blueberries work with vitamin D in our body and can significantly improve immune system and lower the risk of chronic diseases. According to Adrian Gombart, the associate professor in the OSU College of Science, “out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out. Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It's a pretty interesting interaction."
5. Promoting weight loss and reducing the risk of obesity:
According to a study published in American Society for Nutrition, the researchers discovered that blueberries have a significant positive effect on everything from aging to metabolic syndrome.
"I wanted to see if using blueberry polyphenols could inhibit obesity at a molecular stage," says Shiwani Moghe, MS, a graduate student at TWU. The study was performed on tissue cultures obtained from lab rats. The results showed that the polyphenols in blueberries could significantly suppress fat cells. In fact, fat cells exposed to the highest dose of blueberry polyphenols showed a 73% decrease in lipids, whereas fat cells exposed to the lowest dose of blueberry polyphenols showed a 27% decrease.