Blueberries are naturally colored blue. Like other colorful fruits and vegetables, blueberries have the ability to subdue oxygen free radicals. A 2010 study by the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Aging found that blueberries contain the highest levels of antioxidant in comparison with 40 fruits and vegetables. Scientists found that several blueberries phytochemical compounds may play combat chronic disease. Let’s have a look at the blueberries’ key health benefits and the healthy evidence. In this post, I also mention some research of bilberries, European blueberries.
Blueberries have the excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese and high levels of various antioxidants. The main phenolic compounds in blueberries are:
- Flavonoids: Anthocyanins, Flavonols, Flavanols (catechin)
- Phenolic acids: Cinnamic acids, Benzoic acids
- Complex phenolic polymers (polymeric tannins): Ellagitannins, Proanthocyanidins
Each of main phenolic compounds in blueberries has contributed to the different health benefits.
1. Powerful Antioxidant benefits
A 100 gram of blueberries contains 2400 ORAC units. ORAC is the oxygen radical absorbency capacity to quantify the antioxidant capacity of foods. The antioxidant capacity in 100 grams of fresh blueberries equals with five fruit and vegetable servings. Antioxidants are the active component for Anti-inflammation, (arthritis, osteoarthritis) and Metabolic syndrome (obesity). The key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in blueberries are Anthocyanins. This flavonoid phenolic compound gives blueberries blue color.
Blueberries are also rich in phenolic compounds. The phenolic compounds can capture free radicals, deactivating or eliminating them from the body.
A research of the University of California found that blueberries may reduce the “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
2. Natural Anti-aging properties
Blueberry antioxidants are thought to delay aging by their natural cleansing properties. Vitamins and minerals in blueberry might clean the blood. The USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) lab have discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats can slow age-related loss in their mental capacity. The high antioxidant activity of blueberries may play a role.
3. Support the cancer prevention
Bioactive compounds in blueberries support the prevention of many cancers including breast, colon, esophageal, liver, ovarian, and prostate. Here are how blueberries phenolic compounds support the cancer prevention.
- Anthocyanins, blueberries main flavonoids acts as an antioxidant. Flavonoids affect cell proliferation and help regulate cancer signal transduction pathways.
- Kaempferol (flavonoid phytonutrient) in blueberry can lower 40 percent the risk of developing ovarian in women. Others Kaempferol-rich foods are non-herbal tea, onions, kale, and spinach.
- Blueberries also contain moderate quantities of Resveratrol. Resveratrol influences cancer at the initiation, promotion, and progression stages during the development of cancer. It can induce apoptosis in various cancer cells without killing normal cells. Resveratrol also aids in the reduction of inflammatory diseases.
- Black raspberry, red raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry seed flours inhibit the proliferation of human HT29 colon cancer cell line.
- Blueberry flavonoids have also inhibited the activities of enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The enzymes play a significant role in cancer metastasis. A 2006 study found that anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin-enriched blueberry fractions down- regulate MMP activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells. They found that decreases in MMP are possible involvement of protein kinase-C and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in the flavonoid. The research concluded that the down-regulation of MMP activities by the blueberry flavonoids might occur through many mechanisms.
4. Support colon and combats Urinary Tract Infections.
Blueberries are rich in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Both fibers may help to reduce constipation and aid in digestive health. Tannins in blueberries also help to “cleanse” the colon because tannins have an astringent effect.
Like cranberries, blueberries have the compounds that prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). These compound can fight against the bacteria that causes most UTIs and from gaining a hold on the bladder wall. A research of Rutgers University in New Jersey has identified a compound in blueberries that promote urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. Blueberry’s compound prevent bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.
5. Help night vision and eyesight problems
Anthocyanin in blueberries can aid vision especially at night, ease pain in the eyes, and promote sharper vision. Anthocyanins boost the production of rhodopsin, a pigment that improves night vision and helps the eye adapt to light changes.
Scientists in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries( European blueberries) and improved eyesight. Studies found that bilberry extract taken in combination with 20 mg of beta-carotene a day may improve an adaption to light and night vision. Researchers thought this result occurred because of the Anthocyanins in the blue pigment.
A 2001 study in Japan documented that blueberries helped ease eye fatigue. In the study, 50 patients with senile cataracts used a combination of bilberry extract with 25% anthocyanosisdes and vitamin E twice daily for four months. The extract stopped the progression of cataracts in 96% of the patients treated compared to 76% in the control group.
The consumption of bilberry extract may also protect us against the development of glaucoma, or damage to the optic nerve. In a Thorne Research Inc study, eight patients with glaucoma used a dose of 200mg Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. The patient conditions had the improvement due to bilberries’ collagen enhancing and antioxidant properties.
6. Promote cognitive function
Blueberry-rich diets also improve motor skills and the learning capacity of animals and human. Researchers found that people who used a cup of blueberries a day have performed 5–6% better on motor skills tests than who didn’t use. For that reason, adding blueberries to our daily diets help preserve cognitive function and improve working memory.
In a study of USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) fed mice blueberry extractions—the equal of a human eating one cup of blueberries a day. The study found the blueberry-fed mice performed better in motor behavioral learning and memory than normal mice. The scientists also noticed an increase in exploratory behavior. When examined mice brains they found a marked decrease in oxidative stress in two regions of the brain. The mice better retention of signal-transmitting neurons compared with the control mice. So that the blueberries’ antioxidants offer protection of brain cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can exacerbate the effects of age-related cognitive decline.
These are 6 blueberries’ key health benefits and Healthy evidence. I hope you do not get bored with dry information. For better living, we can add blueberries into our daily diet. Blueberries will support and protect us from cancer, antioxidant, and other chronic diseases.