Health Benefits Of Blueberries
The health benefits of blueberries are numerous and are gaining the attention of most people looking to improve their health. Individuals are beginning to understand that it is easier to maintain good health through proper diet than to regain it after it is lost.
Want to retain your memory? Try a blueberry. Lower your risk factors for some cancers? Make blueberries part of your diet. How about a great natural source of antioxidants for optimum health? That's right, blueberries!
After testing 24 varieties of fresh fruit, 23 vegetables, 16 herbs and spices, 10 different nuts, and 4 dried fruits, the US Department of Agriculture determined that blueberries scored highest overall in total antioxidant capacity per serving.
Free radicals, which are unstable molecules, can damage cell membranes and DNA through a process known as oxidative stress, and are blamed for many of the dysfunctions and diseases associated with aging.
"Brainberries" is what Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls these tasty fruits. Pratt, who is also on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., says that in animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.
Using a test called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers have shown that a serving provides more antioxidants in blueberries than many other fresh fruits and vegetables. As most health-conscious adults are aware by now, antioxidants are vital in countering free radicals.
Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, the health benefits of blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the cells and tissues that can lead to heart disease and cancer.
Don’t worry about the name Anthocyanins, just remember it’s the powerhouse of antioxidants in blueberries and is responsible for the blue-red pigments and health benefits of blueberries. These important nutrients are also found in radishes, red cabbage, apples, blackberries, and grapes, but blueberries are one of the richest sources of anthocyanins.
Did you know that native American cultures had consumed blueberries not only as food but also as medicine, drinking blueberry juice to relieve coughs, brewing a tea from blueberry leaves as a tonic, and eating fresh, dried berries to sharpen their vision.
Blueberries and bilberries belong to the Vaccinium family of plants, which includes more than 450 plants grown in all parts of the world. Members of this family possessing the darkest-colored fruits appear to provide the greatest health benefits, a fact that scientists attribute to the compounds that give the plants their dark pigmentation.
Studies On The Health Benefits of Blueberries
Though blueberries themselves are not a cure-all, in addition to the antioxidants in blueberries they also contain a number of other substances, which are thought to have health benefits. These substances include, but are not limited to fructose, fiber, and vitamins.
Antioxidants in blueberries thus far, seem to have the most conclusive role in the prevention or delaying of such diseases as cancer, heart disease and the aging process however, a limited number of studies, especially long term and on human beings, are still under way.
In laboratory animal studies, researchers have found the health benefits of blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Researchers found that the antioxidants in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging animals, making them mentally equivalent to much younger ones.
In another study done by Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture a compound found in blueberries shows promise of preventing colon cancer in animals. The compound, pterostilbene, is a potent antioxidant that could be developed into a pill with the potential for fewer side effects than some commercial drugs that are currently used to prevent the disease.
"This study underscores the need to include more berries in the diet, especially blueberries," said study leader Bandaru Reddy, Ph.D., a professor in the chemical biology department at Rutgers. Although the blueberry compound won't cure colon cancer, it represents a strategy for preventing the disease naturally, said Reddy, who specializes in studying the relationship between nutrition and colon cancer.
The health benefits of blueberries are also being studied for their abilty to reduce the formation of blood clots and possibly preventing heart disease with regular consumption. Like its cousin bilberry, blueberries are also thought to help night vision and slow the progression of macular generation by strengthening the small blood vessels in the back of the eye.
Now that we know blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidant phytonutrients found in fruit and vegetables, the challenge is finding them in your local markets year round, not to mention the high prices.
Antioxidant Health Supplement
So what's the solution?
For us here at whole food supplements guide, the research lead us to an antioxidant health supplement to get the potent benefits of blueberries.
If you truly want to include an antioxidant health supplement in your diet, you may want to consider our whole food supplement of choice located in "Our Top Picks" section of this site.
This product packs the nutritional essence of nine varieties of berries and grapes -- blueberries, blackberries, bilberries, raspberries, cranberries, elderberries, black currants, red currants, and Concord grapes.
Much more than the health benefits of blueberries discussed back at the home page
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