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What Are the Health Benefits of Blueberries?
Having the scientific name of Vaccinium corymbosum, blueberries are dynamic small fruits that provide the human body multiple health benefits. In the case of the United States blueberries were long valued by the Native Americans in the 1600’s, long before the Pilgrims arrived on American soil. Fast forward to 1893 and there the journey of Elizabeth White and her support of blueberries begins.
The daughter of a New Jersey farmer, White put the wheels in motion to start a flourishing industry for blueberries in the early 20th Century. In 1911 White teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to identify wild plants that had the most ideal properties, crossbreed bushes and create new types of blueberries. 5 years later in 1916 White and Coville sold the first commercial crop of blueberries in Whitesbog, New Jersey.
Blueberries Have Anti-Aging Effects
One study that was conducted involved the functional mobility in older adults, and test subjects were given 6 weeks to consume the polyphenolic-rich food of blueberries daily. 2 cups of frozen blueberries were consumed. Results indicated that the blueberry group of the study showed significant improvements compared to the group that had the carrot juice drink.
In another study blueberries proved to have robust and reproducible benefits during the aging process. Due to the enriching contents of blueberries aging-related declines in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans slowed down. One major antioxidant function of blueberries would be proanthocyanin compounds, which has shown to increased lifespan and thermotolerance of the nematode.
Antioxidants: A Game-Changing Health Benefit of Blueberries
Blueberries are universally known for their exceptional antioxidant properties. Blueberry seedlings were evaluated in one study, and extracts were prepared in 85% ethanol from 30 days old in vitro cultured plants. All extracts showed antioxidant activity, especially Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power.
In other research the anthocyanins in blueberries were tested in the treatment of endothelial cells. Results showed that the variation in levels of malvidin-3-glucoside and malvidin-3-galactoside had a significant impact on antoxidant properties, which prevents cells from oxidative deterioration.
In another study subjects consumed high carbohydrate and low fat breakfast that included blueberries. Results from this experiment revealed an increase in serum Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). It is suggested that practically consumable quantity of blueberries (75 grams) can provide great oxidative protection in vivo after having a high carb and low fat breakfast.
Blueberries Promote Brain Health
In one study 14 children ages 8 to 10 consumed a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink or a similar drink that matched. 2 hours after consumption 5 cognitive tests were initiated and results showed improvements in the delayed recall of learned list of words. There was also significant benefits in memorization.
Blueberries also contain an abundance of phytochemicals that can decrease inflammatory and oxidative stress. This study found out that the protective effects of blueberries may not be due to just one component, but rather a combination of the activity of compounds tested. It turns out that pterostilbene, revservatrol, and 2 anthocyanins were efficacious in protecting microglia from inflammatory-induced stress signaling.
Blueberries Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
In one study 23 volunteers consumed a moderately high fat breakfast with either placebo powder or 2 or 4 servings of blueberry powder. The first test day the placebo powder was consumed and then random doses of blueberry powder were consumed with a 2-week washout period. The median concentrations of plasma free fatty acids and cytokines in postprandial plasma decreased compared with fasting plasma regardless of blueberry intake.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with trauma and prolonged stress responses. PTSD also involves oxidative stress and inflammation in the profrontal cortex and hippocampus. Though rats were tested for this study, results did show that Norepinephrine levels increased and 5-HT levels decreased in the rats that went on the diet that was blueberry enriched. Protein expression of inflammatory cytokines seen in the PTSD group were normalized.
Blueberries and lemons complement each other in a healthy meal, so the edible lemon essential oil can be used to help blueberries stop free radicals from developing and spreading.
Blueberries Promote Kidney Health
Blueberry enriched diets also improves renal function. Rats were also tested for 15 weeks to go on this diet, and one group had lower glucose tolerance. However, the group that had the controlled diet had that lower tolerance. Reno-protective effects were found in the blueberry group. These test results suggest that blueberries are a possible treatment to kidney damage.
The Toll-like Receptor 4 (TLR4) inflammatory pathway is a major component of kidney inflammation. Animals that were pretreated with blueberries experienced an improved glomerular filtration rate, elevated renal blood flow and a decreased renal vascular resistance. Blueberries basically decrease the rate of production of free radicals considering this data.
Blueberries Promote Liver Health
Your liver will also thank you for consuming blueberries. Hepatitis C Virus is a liver disease that effects a person’s stamina. One study examined the methanol extract fraction of blueberry leaves. The final purified fraction levels showed a 63-fold increase in specific activity compared with initial methanol extracts. The data suggests that proanthocyanidin isolated from blueberry leaves can act as a legitimate anti-HCV compound.
Another study examined the combination of blueberry juice and probiotics and 6 groups took different treatments. Results showed that levels of superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione and HDL cholesterol were increased in 2 blueberry groups, which experienced the reduction of apoptosis in alcholic fatty liver.
Blueberries Help Fight Cancer
Consuming blueberries can do wonders for people who have cancer. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is a cancer that many patients quickly relapse from and then develop metastases. The effects of TNBC were tested in mice and 5% whole blueberry powder was consumed. Tumor formation and metastasis were not issues for these mice as it was found that there were significantly smaller tumors, less ulceration and significantly less metastasis to the inguinal lymph nodes.
Those who suffer from colon cancer will also receive help from consuming blueberries. Colon cancer lines were observed and 3 blueberry cultivars were used, which were Briteblue, Tifblue and Powderblue. The functions of flavonol and tanin resulted in 50% inhibition of cell proliferation at concentrations of 70 to 100 micrograms or 50 to 100 millileters. There was also 2 to 7 times increases in DNA fragmentation which indicates the induction of apoptosis.