Key Benefits of Blueberries
These small berries contain good levels of vitamin C, the minerals iron and potassium, silicon, pectin, and beta-carotene. Blueberries superfood heart-healthy benefits start when pectin binds with cholesterol, lowering levels and helping prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Silicon may help in regenerating the pancreas.
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According to the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Boston’s Tufts University, blueberries are the top fruit for fighting free-radicals. The research center devised a system to measure the antioxidant capability of foods. The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC. The system measures the ability of fruit and vegetables to neutralize free radicals.
Scientists suggest we eat at least 5,000 ORAC units a day for maximum antioxidant benefit. Just 50g of blueberries provide double this amount. In other anti-aging studies at Tufts, rats fed with extracts of blueberries displayed none of the normal signs of aging. The lab rats, not fed blueberries suffered the loss of concentration, balance, and coordination.
With good levels of vitamins and minerals, blueberries are often classed as a superfood and contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds including anthocyanin. Nearly every major 21st-century disease including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease has been linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. It is thought that anthocyanin makes blood vessel walls stronger by interacting with their collagen and helping deter capillary fragility and the development of varicose veins. Another compound in blueberries, myrtillin, lowers blood sugar levels. For this reason blueberries, health benefits include preventing and treating diabetes.
Blueberries may also be the ultimate memory superfood. Studies have shown a daily dose of blueberries dramatically slows impairments in motor coordination and memory that often accompany old age. The polyphenols found in blueberries help neurons in the brain communicate with each other more effectively by turning signals on.
With such a high ORAC rating, blueberries can also help in the fight against heart disease. A study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported blueberries to contain a compound called pterostilbene which has better lipid-lowering functions than resveratrol, found in grapes, or even the prescription drug Ciprofibrate. Like resveratrol, pterostilbene regulates fatty acid metabolism and fats in the bloodstream and helps prevent plaque deposits in the arteries.
Bilberries, a close cousin of blueberries, have been found to protect against glaucoma and cataracts. In Japan, wild blueberries are called vision fruits. They contain very high levels of anthocyanins which are natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Benefits include reducing eye strain and improving night vision. Studies are also underway to ascertain if blueberries can help prevent macular degeneration, a retina disease that is the leading cause of blindness in those over 65.
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