The Health Benefits of Blueberries

Beyond the fact that blueberries just taste good, recent studies have shown that blueberries and other dark fruits have amazing health benefits. The tiny fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, flavinoids, fiber and vitamins, while at the same time being low in calories and almost fat-free.

Blueberries on a Banana Leaf

Ounce for ounce blueberries have the highest level of antioxidants when compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant properties of blueberries are believed to lower the build up of bad cholesterol and to help neutralize free radicals that are responsible for certain cancers. The best results have been seen in colon cancer, where the blueberry compounds stop the cell growth and even cause apoptosis in cancer cells. The compound pterostilbene, found in blueberries, is being studied as a cholesterol lowering substance and a cancer treatment.

Antioxidants have immunological benefits, as well. A diet high in antioxidants, like those found in blueberries, increases the strength of the immune system which allows the body to fight off viruses such as the cold and flu.

Antioxidants in blueberries have been studied in rats by the USDA and have been shown to have anti-aging properties. The age related reduction in mental capacity caused by aging was reduced in rats who were given blueberries. Studies have shown that blueberries can help heal brain cells and have the potential to prevent or treat Alzheimer's.

Another compound in blueberries promotes urinary tract health by preventing the bacteria b-coli from building up on the wall of the urinary tract. Blueberries have both an antibacterial effect and an antibiotic effect that helps prevent urinary tract infections.

Blueberries contain a compounds called anthocyanosides, responsible for the blue color of blueberries, which have been shown to inhibit vision loss. Studies have shown benefits in patients with macular degeneration, cataracts, eye infections and even eye fatigue. The high levels of vitamins E, C and A, selenium, zinc and phosphorus found in blueberries are also known to promote healthy eyes. The blueberry's close relative, the bilberry, has been studied in Europe and offers similar benefits.

Studies on laboratory rats have shown that blueberries can reduce belly fat. Even rats on a high fat diet showed reduced fat, lower cholesterol, improved fasting insulin and glucose levels, and reduced liver fat. Rats on a low fat diet and blueberry supplement had even better results.

The skin of the blueberry is high in fiber which helps digestion and prevents constipation. The acid content, copper, and sodium in blueberries also helps keep the digestive tract running smoothly.

The research that has already been done on blueberries shows that the health benefits of this small fruit are great. More research is being done all of the time with the potential for even greater discoveries.

<< History of Blueberries | Blueberry Cultivation >>

Resources:

Women Fitness: Top 10 Health Benefits of Blueberries
Berry Health Benefits Network: Health and Healing Fact Sheets: Blueberries

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