Health Benefits of Eating Blueberries
Package of Blueberries
Blueberries and Their Health Benefits
Blueberries are known to be the highest source of antioxidants in foods. Here is a webMD.com article about this called Antioxidants in Fruits. It says:
Berries won hands down, in providing the most antioxidant bang for the buck.
Antioxidants are important disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe they help prevent and repair the stress that comes from oxidation, a natural process that occurs during normal cell function.
Wild blueberries are the winner overall. Just one cup has 13,427 total antioxidants.
Cultivated blueberries have 9,019 per cup.
It goes on to list cranberries as having 8,983 per cup, Blackberries have 7,701 per cup. Raspberries-- 6,058, strawberries-- 5,938, black plums-- 4,873 and sweet cherries with 4,873. This list does not include some of the more rare and exotic fruits that may have more antioxidants like mangosteen, goji berries, acai berries or camu camu fruit. See Fruits are the Healthiest Foods.
The first leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart attacks, the second is cancer and the third is strokes. Heart attacks and strokes are both caused by bad cardiovascular health. The most important thing with preventing cancer is getting enough vitamin D and JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) found that 77% of Americans are deficient in it. See The Vitamin D Deficiency Pandemic.
WebMD.com says about the blueberry:
Blueberry is used for preventing cataracts and glaucoma and for treating ulcers, urinary tract infections (UTIs), multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), colic, fever, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Blueberry is also used for improving circulation, and as a laxative.
The best food for cardiovascular health that prevents heart attacks and strokes is berries. Here is an article with lots of research to show this: Best Group of Foods for Cardiovascular Health. A big problem of aging is as one gets older, one loses his ability to repair DNA. They found that blueberrries help this DNA repair to work better. One study showed that blueberries could increase mean lifespan by 28%.
Blueberries are very high in a phytochemical (plant medicine) called anthocyans. Today's Dietitian (March 2014 issue) says:
There are many aspects to anthocyanins’ role in the body that remain a mystery, such as bioactivity, uptake, absorption, bioavailability, and distribution in the tissues. But laboratory research as well as studies in animals and humans have suggested that anthocyanins may play important roles in helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cognitive decline, and cancer.
When it comes to living longer, lifespan extension and anti-aging, the one thing that has proven to work with many studies done on animals is restricting calories or calorie restriction. In other words, the less that you eat, the longer that you live. One thing that helps with this is fasting.
See The Many Benefits of Fasting. Two thousand years ago, the main method of healing among Jews, like Jesus, was fasting. That is why the Bible has 74 references to fasting. Fasting gives your digestive system a much needed rest or vacation. It also saves you time and money.
So they did a study in 2012 with this with laboratory mice. They allowed one group of mice to eat as much as they wanted to like many people do. With another group of mice they restricted their calories by having them eat every other day that they called intermittent fasting (this is when you fast less than 24 hours).
With the third group of mice they had them do the above calorie restriction but also had them consume a polyphenol mixture. Polyphenols are phytochemicals (plant medicines). They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are thousands of phytochemicals in plant foods like lycopene in tomatoes, resveratrol in grapes and curcumin in turmeric. Over 900 phytochemicals have been identified.
These polyphenols came from blueberry, pomegranate and green tea. They found that the group that consumed less calories lived longer than the group that ate as much as they wanted. But they found that the group that restricted calories and also consumed the polyphenol mix lived significantly longer than the group that just restricted calories. They used these 3 foods since they are known as being super healthy foods or super foods. See 17 Health Benefits of Green Tea.
Steven Pratt M.D. & Kathy Matthews wrote a book called SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. It has the 14 healthiest foods in them and one of them is blueberries. Others include beans, green tea, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.
Life-Extending Properties of Blueberries
Blueberries appear to be exceptionally good at optimizing immunity at the cellular level and at promoting repair of DNA strands. This helps to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and loss of metabolic control that leads to diabetes and obesity. So blueberries prevent DNA damage and helps the body to repair DNA damage.
Blueberries have one of the highest concentrations of polyphenols that can inhibit the oxidation of the bad (LDL) cholesterol that clogs the arteries. They have used blueberries in studies that show that consuming blueberries after a heart attack can stop the expansion of the area of the damaged heart tissue. It can also reduce the damage caused by a heart attack or stroke.
Consuming blueberries can also lower high blood pressure. This is partly due to the berries causing the body to produce more nitric oxide. See Improve Circulation with Nitric Oxide. It also helps the artery walls to become less stiff and more elastic.
Obesity has caused a rise in type 2 diabetes and they call this diabesity. The above added to a high-fat diet, little exercise, glucose intolererance or prediabetes and high blood pressure is known as metabolic syndrome. Blueberries are like a natural antidote to metabolic syndrome.
This helps to prevent Alzheimer's disease since it is also referred to as type III diabetes. Also my article about berries being the best thing for cardiovascular health also showed that berries are also very effective at preventing cancer. Blueberries are the best source of pterostilbene that is a close relative of resveratrol. It has been called a hallmark anticancer agent based on its ability to fight malignant change while producing little toxicity. Of course it is always better to get and eat organically grown blueberries if you can.
I just saw that pterostilbene helps to maintain healthy systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels within normal ranges. So I looked it up and saw an article on it on Wikipedia. It says:
Pterostilbene is a stilbenoid chemically related to resveratrol. It belongs to the group of phytoalexins, agents produced by plants to fight infections. Based on animal studies it is thought to exhibit anti-cancer, anti-hypercholesterolemia, anti-hypertriglyceridemia properties, as well as the ability to fight off and reverse cognitive decline. It is believed that the compound also has anti-diabetic properties.
Pterostilbene is found in blueberries and grapes.
Studies that used animals fed on blueberry based diets found significant reduction in blood lipid count and cholesterol count. While lipids and cholesterol stored in the cells do not pose much harm, elevated lipid and cholesterol levels in the blood have been linked to heart disease and stroke.
For information on how pomegranate or pomegranate juice consumption reduces the plaque that clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes see Health Benefits of Pomegranates. For the best food (cherries) that an MD says that can reduce pain and inflammation better than aspirin, see Health Benefits of Cherries.