From research labs all across the country and the world, there is growing evidence that blueberries could be powerful little disease fighters. Here is what we have learned so far…
Antioxidants – Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age related diseases.
Anthocyanin — the pigment that makes the blueberries blue — is thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.
Anti-Aging – In another USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) lab, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for humans. Again, the high antioxidant activity of blueberries probably played a role.
Disease Prevention – Blueberries may reduce the build up of so called “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to scientists at the University of California at Davis. Antioxidants are believed to be the active component.
Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections – Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified a compound in blueberries that promotes urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. It appears to work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.
Blueberries and Eyesight – A number of studies in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries, the European cousin of blueberries and improved eyesight. This is thought to occur because of the anthocyanin in the blue pigment which is also available in the blueberry. One study in Japan documented that blueberries helped ease eye fatigue.
Though blueberries themselves are not a cure-all, they contain a number of substances which are thought to have health benefits. These substances include, but are not limited to fructose, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants thus far, seem to have the most conclusive role in the prevention/ delaying of such diseases as cancer, heart disease and the aging process however, a limited number of studies, especially long term and on human beings, are not available at this time.