Blueberries are a "superfruit" rich in powerful antioxidants that fight and prevent disease. And a new study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adds to the growing list of the blueberry's known benefits, revealing that the fruit helps stop the lesions and plaques that form in the arteries of people with atherosclerosis.
Xianli Wu and a team from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences conducted the study, which appears in the Journal of Nutrition. They found that when fed the equivalent of a half cup of blueberries a day for 20 weeks, mice with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries,put simply)lesions experienced a nearly 60 percent reduction in the size of the lesions, compared to mice not fed blueberries.
According to researchers, all mice had an apolipoprotein-E deficiency, which means they were already prone to developing hardened arteries. Thus identifying the mechanisms by which blueberries exhibit positive results was simplified, as researchers were able to observe the specific ways in which blueberry antioxidents work to prevent oxidative stress and damage
Two newer studies add to the growing body of research about the many health benefits of consuming blueberries. Researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) have found that blueberries help to prevent obesity-related insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, while researchers from Oklahoma State University (OSU) have found similar success in using blueberries to prevent hypertension.
Published in the October issue of The Journal of Nutrition, the PBRC study found that obese participants who consumed blueberry-rich smoothies twice a day for 42 days experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity compared to participants who consumed an equally nutritious, but blueberry-free, smoothie twice a day for the same time period.
None of the participants had diabetes at the time of the study, but the blueberry compounds appeared to actually regulate the obesity-related insulin factors that are implicated in causing pre-diabetes and diabetes.
"We now know that compounds in BB may help obese, non-diabetic individuals maintain healthy blood glucoselevels," explained Dr. April Stull, a researcher at PBRC.
Not only do blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit, but they have also been proven to help with a number of diseases and conditions. Highly purified proanthocyanidin found in blueberry leaves has been found to inhibit Hepatitis C, and blueberries have been used for centuries to improve liver-related conditions. Blueberries provide a natural alternative to expensive and ineffective pharmaceuticals that tend to only worsen the condition.
Blueberries contain Epicatechin, which is why they are so potent at improving liver function. While grapes, green tea, and other items also contain this ingredient, blueberries carry other beneficial ingredients that help to improve total body function. Pterostilbene, another major component of blueberries, has been found to protect against colon cancer. Colon cancer is currently a major killer, with an estimated 50,000 people per year dying from colorectal cancer.
An even larger killer than colon cancer, breast cancer is the number two killer of women. About 1.3 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide this year, and 465,000 will end up dying from the disease. Blueberry extract inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells and was found to decrease enzymes associated with cancer spreading. Blueberries are truly an anti-cancer fruit.
If supplementing with blueberry extract, be sure to make sure that your supplement contains standardized pterostilbene, as all blueberries do not contain the same amount of pterostilbene. Of course supplementing with blueberry extract will not deliver the same results as eating fresh blueberries. Eating fresh berries will lead to better absorption by the body, and therefore better results. While supplements are a great means of getting vital nutrients that are hard to obtain through food alone, it is no supplement to real food. It is important to get most of your nutrients from whole foods.
Unfortunately, all blueberries are not prepared equally. Blueberries that are both fresh and organic will deliver a bountiful amount of antioxidants that non-organic blueberries will not. Blueberries that have been sprayed with harmful pesticides can do more harm than good. In fact, many chemical pesticides are neurotoxins and have been linked to conditions such as ADHD. The best way to avoid these pesticides is to buy local 100% organic produce. Growing your own food may also be a viable option, as long as you use seeds that are not genetically modified.
Preserving the blueberries is also very important. When juicing blueberries (and really just about anything), it is important that you try and drink the juice in a timely manner. Over time, the amount of living nutrients in the product begins to diminish. With different juicers and juicing techniques these conditions change, but the fact remains that blueberries should be consumed through whatever means necessary. Eating raw fruits and vegetables is an amazing way to change your life, and blueberries stand as a testament to this. Multiple studies have proven their ability to prevent and fight cancer, and such properties should be utilized to the fullest
At Woolies they now have thses FlavourBurst (or is it FlavorBurst?) berries that taste like what I imagine Gummie Berry Juice to taste like. Try them!