Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blueberry goodness

      I've mentioned how much I like blueberries and how good they are for you. This information is from the web site for The Blueberry Council.

      Researches say that blueberries have:

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 properties
"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."

Heart healthy
"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.

Cholesterol lowering
"At the recent American Chemical Society meeting it was reported that a compound found in blueberries called pterostilbene has "the potential to be developed into a nutraceutical for lowering cholesterol, particularly for those who do not respond well to conventional drugs," reports foodnavigator.com (8/24/04). Study authors from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) indicate that the compound found in Vaccinium berries could be a "potent weapon in the battle against obesity and heart disease through its cholesterol-reducing potential." Head researcher, Agnes M. Rimando and her associates "earlier showed that this compound may help fight cancer." An abstract of the study is found on the Agricultural Research Service website which also studied the presence of resveratrol and piceatannol. According to the technical abstract, "These naturally occurring stilbenes, known to be strong antioxidants and to have cancer chemopreventive activity, will add to purported health benefits derived from consumption of these small fruits."

"Eating blueberries may help you remember where you placed your car keys—important findings if you’d like to keep Alzheimer’s and heart disease at bay.
The research was presented Monday, August 19, at the ACS national meeting in Boston.

"In one study, Jim Joseph, director of the neuroscience laboratory in the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA), fed blueberry extractions—the equivalent of a human eating one cup of blueberries a day—to mice and then ran them through a series of motor skills tests.

"He found that the blueberry-fed mice performed better than their control group counterparts in motor behavioral learning and memory, and he noticed an increase in exploratory behavior. When he examined their brains, he found a marked decrease in oxidative stress in two regions of the brain and better retention of signal-transmitting neurons compared with the control mice.

"The chemical that appears responsible for this neuron protection, anthocyanin also gives blueberries their color and might be the key component of the blueberry’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries, along with other colorful fruits and vegetables, test high in their ability to subdue oxygen free radicals. These oxygen radicals, which can damage cell membranes and DNA through a process known as oxidative stress, are blamed for many of the dysfunctions and diseases associated with aging.

"These findings could become increasingly important as the U.S. population ages. It is projected that by 2050, more than 30% of Americans will be over 65 and will have the decreased cognitive and motor function that accompanies advanced age. Joseph is currently testing the effects of blueberries 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."

2 comments:

CrystalDiggory said...

Great post! I love blueberries, too. I could probably eat a cup a day, too. Now...if I could just find some on sale...I've found the frozen variety are a little less expensive, but I like the fresh better.

FrenziedFeline said...

Maybe I should switch to blueberries on my bran flakes instead of craisins. I should at least try them, huh? :)