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Blueberries: Berry Good!
Publish date: Aug 18, 2014
Summary: Blueberries have been studied for years, and now we are discovering more health benefits from this small superfood!
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In many parts of North America, it’s blueberry season and grocery stores are stocking fresh cultivated and wild grown berries. By now, many people have heard about the health benefits of these small, blue fruits. Blueberries have been studied for years since it was first discovered that they were exceptionally high in antioxidants, chemical compounds that interfere with the cellular and molecular damage caused by oxidation. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from age-related health risks such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline. Getting enough antioxidants into our diets is an important protective measure that we can take to protect against disease. Because they’re such a good source of antioxidants, making blueberries a regular part of our diet is a wise thing to do.
Cognitive Function Protection
Eating blueberries is a smart way to protect our brains from oxidative damage. The Nurses’ Health Study, analyzed the diets of more than 16 000 nurses and found that those who ate more blueberries and strawberries experienced slower rates of cognitive decline than those who ate less.i In another studyii, older adults were given blueberry juice daily. After three months researchers noticed improved memory in certain tasks.
Better Vision Longer
Blueberry consumption can also help to protect against vision loss due to oxidation. Researchers found that a blueberry extract was effective in protecting retinal cells from oxidative damage and concluded that blueberry is a simple and effective way to prevent or limit ocular damage from oxidation.iii This is important because the retina is prone to oxidative damage, resulting in vision loss over time.
Cooling Blue for Inflammation
The antioxidants supplied by blueberries can also cool inflammation. Inflammation is a factor in the development of many diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disorders, cancer, liver disorders, etc. Numerous animal studies have shown that wild blueberries have an anti-inflammatory effect and could be helpful in the prevention of diseases linked with chronic inflammation.
Blueberries and other wild berries are also being studied for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects in an attempt to find a solution to the superbug crisis. Researchers have noted that, “Due to constantly increasing antibiotic resistance of pathogens…a development of alternative therapeutic strategies becomes an urgent need.”iv One study examined the effects of blueberry juice on four foodborne pathogens: salmonella, campylobacter, listeria and E. coli. Researchers found that blueberry juice was effective in reducing the growth rate of all four pathogens to a level that could not be detected. That’s something worth getting excited about. And surprisingly, blueberry juice did not prohibit the growth of certain health-promoting gut bacteria, as typical antibiotics do.
Perhaps sometime in the future, doctors will prescribe blueberries to fight infections and disease. One thing is certain, no other medicine tastes quite as good as a bowl of simply sweet, ripe blueberries. And if you’ve ever wondered whether picking wild blueberries was worth the time and effort, consider this. Wild blueberries have twice as much antioxidant power as cultivated blueberries.
Make the most of blueberry season and enjoy them fresh now. But be sure to stock your freezer with lots of blueberries for year round eating. Then find ways to make these tiny nutritional powerhouses a regular part of your health regimen.
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