Blueberry researchers from all across America, and the world actually, say that there is growing evidence that blueberries could be the most powerful little cancer and disease fighters. Great-grandpop DiMeo probably never imagined all this when he started planting blueberries back in the year 1910. Nor did grandpop DiMeo when he greatly expanded the blueberry farming operation back in 1941. But now we all know that blueberries have amazing health benefits. It’s such a good feeling to know that our blueberries and blueberry plants are impacting peoples lives in such a positive way.
Blueberries are Super High in Antioxidants & Cancer Fighting Properties
What are Antioxidants? Antioxidants consist of a group of vitamins, important minerals and enzymes that have powerful health enhancing effects for our bodies. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals before they do harm to our bodies. Free radicals are atoms that cause damage to our cells. They harm our immune system leading to many degenerative diseases. Free radicals are formed by our cells being exposed to a variety of substances such as radiation, chemicals, pollution, smoke, drugs, alcohol, pesticides and sun and through various metabolic processes such as when our bodies utilize stored fat for energy. A poor diet also aids in the formation of free radicals. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to free radicals to convert them to harmless molecules. This protects cells from oxidative damage that leads to aging and various diseases. Many vitamins and minerals are antioxidants but not all antioxidants are equal. Some antioxidants are made in our cells, including enzymes and other molecules. Other essential antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and selenium must come from our diets.
Blueberries May Lower Your Cholesterol
Besides tasting great and looking good, new research studies at the United States Department of Agriculture have revealed that blueberries can also lower cholesterol, yes, even better than prescription drugs. This is due to the antioxidant compound found in blueberries called pterostilbene. Its effect is similar to a commercial medication, Ciprofibrate (sold under the name of “Modalim”) that is used to reduce “bad” or LDL cholesterol. Blueberries have been shown to give a similar result to Ciprofibrate without the drug’s side effects of muscle pain and nausea.
Pterostilbene is an antioxidant, similar to resveratrol, which is another compound found in grapes and red wine, that is shown to help fight cancer, heart disease, and lower cholesterol. According to Dr. Rimando, with Drs. Rangaswamy Nagmani and Dennis Feller from the University of Mississippi, pterostilbene is the powerful ingredient when it comes to stimulating a receptor protein in your cells, which plays an important role in reducing cholesterol and other body fat. Because this blueberry compound targets the receptor protein in your body more accurately than commercial drugs, you are less likely to experience side effects that you would have with prescription drugs. Belinda Linden (Head of Medical Information) from the British Heart Foundation said: Research has suggested that natural chemicals found in fruit, including blueberries, have potent antioxidant properties which may reduce the harmful type of cholesterol.
Dr. Rimando of the United States Department of Agriculture also said at the National meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia that “Blueberries, which are already known to be rich in healthy compounds, may also be a potent weapon in the battle against obesity and heart disease.” The simple conclusion is that blueberries lower cholesterol as effectively as drugs, but without the negative side effects.
Blueberries May Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Recent studies at the Blueberry Research Center, have shown that blueberries have compounds similar to those of cranberries and can also be used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Epicatechin is a bioflavonoid (antioxidant) found both in cranberries and blueberries. Epicatechin works to prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the bladder tissue. This causes the bacteria to be eliminated thru your urine rather than attaching to the bladder wall, where they start multiplying and ultimately causing infection. In addition, fructose – the sugar found naturally in fruits, and cane sugar or honey that is often added to fruit juices, may also be beneficial by interfering with bacterial adhesion.
Blueberries May Improve Memory, Coordination & Balance
Preliminary research suggests that blueberries protect against the effects of age-related deterioration of the brain, such as short-term memory loss. This is due to the antioxidant actions of flavonoids found in blueberries. They may protect against, and even reverse, some age-related memory loss by preventing degenerative free radical damage and improving blood flow, resulting in a healthier brain. In one study, Jim Joseph, Director of the neuroscience laboratory in the USDA Human Nutrition Center found that blueberry-fed mice performed better than their control group counterparts in motor behavioral learning and memory, and increased in exploratory behavior. Jim Joseph is currently testing the effects of blueberries on memory, coordination and balance on humans. Preliminary results show that people who ate a cup of blueberries a day have performed 5-6% better on motor skills tests than the control group. Blueberries should play a more significant role in adult diets since statistics show that by 2050, more than 30% of Americans will be over 65 and will have the decreased cognitive and motor function that accompanies old age.
Eating Blueberries May Improve Eyesight
A number of studies in Europe have documented that blueberries, like their European cousins, bilberries, have very high concentrations of anthocyanin, a natural compound linked with many health benefits including reducing eyestrain, improving nighttime visual acuity, and promoting quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare. Blueberries are known to prevent and even reverse the most common cause of blindness, macular degeneration, a disease of the retina that is the primary cause of vision loss in older adults. This is due to the anthocyanin in the blue pigment in blueberries. Blueberries are so popular in Japan for its benefits on eyesight that it has been nicknamed “the vision fruit.”
Blueberries & Anti-Aging Effects
Blueberries have been shown to have a positive effect on aging. In animal studies, blueberries appear to reverse some aspects of brain aging. This has given the blueberry a nickname, the ‘brain berry’. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries build a protective coat around the brain to fight signs of aging and deterioration. There is also evidence that blueberries may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
The anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries appear to prevent and relieve arthritic symptoms, while the nutrients in blueberries may help strengthen blood vessels, leading to healthier blood pressure levels and heart health. The manganese in blueberries supports strong bones and its vitamin C supports the immune system. All these factors contribute to the anti-aging, cancer fighting and antioxidant capability of this amazing fruit – the blueberry!
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, world-renowned dermatologist and author of “The Wrinkle Cure” and “The Perricone Promise”, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the topic of “Look 10 Years Younger in 10 Days.”
To look 10 years younger in 10 days, he recommends following a diet that includes eating lots of blueberries. Blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants (or natural anti-inflammatories), which according to Dr. Perricone is necessary for healthy looking skin since inflammation is the basis of aging and wrinkling.