According to a lead scientist in the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University named James Joseph, PhD, nothing beats blueberry when it comes to brain protection. He even calls the blueberry as the “brain berry”.
Numerous animal studies show that taking adequate amounts of blueberry on a regular basis could dramatically reduce the chances of developing brain impairments and could greatly enhance motor and memory coordination in elderly individuals. Furthermore, many research studies that have been recently conducted showed that aside from enhancing brain health, this native plant that comes from North America could promote numerous health benefits whether consumed fresh, canned, frozen, or as an extract.
Free radicals are known to be the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can lead to the development of cancer and other age-related conditions. Numerous people nowadays are aware that antioxidants are important in getting rid of free radicals. The United States Department of Agriculture conducted a study on 24 varieties of fresh fruits, 16 herbs and spices, 23 vegetables, 4 dried fruits, and 10 different nuts. As a result, they determined that blueberry scored highest overall in total antioxidant capacities per serving.
Other research studies suggest that blueberries have the ability to promote urinary tract health, decrease the risk of urinary tract infections, and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Bilberries are blueberry’s close European cousins. Studies in Europe show that bilberry could enhance night vision, improve eye health, protect the eyes from developing glaucoma, and reduces the progression of cataracts. Age-related lipid peroxidation is known to be a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Blueberries are proven by new studies to be effective in reducing age-related lipid peroxidation and play a role in suppressing the growth and development of different types of cancer cells. Additionally, one of the reasons why people love to eat these fruits is that they are very delicious.
Plants contain a natural compound known as polyphenols, which is a name that describes their chemical composition that includes a number of ring-like structures, or phenol groups. A lot of these compounds are pigments. Anthocyanin is a compound that gives blueberries their dark blue color. Blueberry anthocyanins are known to be antioxidants, and as mentioned earlier, antioxidants get rid of free radicals that cause instability and damage to our body.
When our organs are exposed to toxins when using cigarette, or when our skin is exposed to sunlight, free radicals form as natural byproducts of digestion. This can caused damage to the cellular membranes of our DNA, and can later on increase the risk of developing life-threatening disorders such as heart disease and cancer.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the antioxidant content of blueberries is one of the highest of all vegetables and fruits. The antioxidant action of blueberries can be very helpful in preventing the development of certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. A study, published in the April 2010 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” involved elderly individuals who have memory problems. These individuals took blueberry juice every day for a total of 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the participants showed significantly high scores on memory tests as compared to their pre-test scores. However, this is just one study and lot is needed in order to have a strong evidence to prove blueberry’s benefits in terms of neurological function.
Blueberry contains compounds that are known to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Research studies show that consuming fresh blueberries or taking blueberry supplements could reduce blood cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and reduce the risk of inflammatory changes in the blood vessels that can result to atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels). A study, published in the July 2010 issue of the “Journal of Nutrition” observed a group of individuals who have metabolic syndrome. These individuals drank a beverage made from dried blueberry fruits for a total of 8 weeks. As a result, these subjects had lower levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein, a major factor for cardiovascular inflammation, and decreased blood pressure as compared to those subjects in the placebo group.
The supply of blueberries is seasonal and is not always available throughout the year. On the off chance that you are residing in a place or country that is not abundant with fresh blueberries, taking blueberry supplement capsules can be a useful and convenient alternative. One potential benefit of supplement capsules over fresh is that supplements are usually standardized for their content of antioxidants like anthocyanin. It is recommended that you should always check the product labels and opt for products in which the content of these compounds is standardized. Consult first your physician or any qualified medical professional before deciding to take any blueberry supplements. Blueberry capsules have no minimum dose; therefore, you should always check the product labels or talk to your physician to obtain the right amount of dose.
Blueberry fruits are known to be safe for the majority of people when consumed freshly. There is no enough evidence to prove blueberry leaf’s safety when taken by mouth; therefore, it is best to avoid taking leaves.
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