Have you seen those rearview mirrors that say “objects in mirror are larger than they appear”? Well, blueberries are really larger than they appear when it comes to their health benefits. In fact, pound for pound blueberries may be the most health beneficial fruit.
Blueberries are high in flavonoid and polyphenol antioxidants. They are also potent anti-inflammatory fruits. This combination is why blueberries exert positive health benefits on the entire body.
6 Health Benefits of Blueberries
- Increases longevity
- Facilitates weight loss and prevents obesity
- Reduces risks of metabolic syndrome and diabetes
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- Protects against cancer
- Improves brain function
Blueberries have been shown to increase life span in fruit flies and laboratory animals. These potent berries are high in antioxidants including anthocyanins and pterostilbenes are probably key factors in increasing longevity. They also fight physical signs of aging. They have been shown to improve age-related decline in brain response time. They help to restore skin thickness and smoothness while reducing wrinkles. They also reduce damage to the retina helping to preserve eyesight. They also help maintain bone density as we age.
Blueberries block absorption of carbohydrates minimizing the insulin response to a meal. Insulin as we have discussed frequently is a fattening hormone. They also slow the development of fat cells and enhances the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into muscles where glucose is burned as energy rather than being stored as fat. Fat is filled with inflammatory compounds and blueberries block inflammation.
Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
Because blueberries help block carbohydrate absorption they reduce blood sugar and insulin levels improving insulin resistance. They also lower fasting blood sugar levels.
These potent berries protect against the number one killer in the US, cardiovascular disease, by lowering blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Like some prescribed blood pressure medications blueberries block angiotensin converting enzyme. By blocking this enzyme blood vessels can relax improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. The lowering of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides reduces the chances of developing atherosclerosis.
The number two killer in the US is cancer. Through several mechanisms blueberries make cancer more difficult to develop, grow, and spread. First, they prevent DNA damage, a prerequisite for cancer to occur. They also block the growth of cancer cells and the blood supply to cancer cells depriving cancer cells of necessary nutrients to grow and multiply. The ability of cancer cells to spread by invading surrounding tissues is blocked by blueberries. Blueberries induce cellular apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Overall, blueberries share many characteristics of curcumin when it comes to combating cancer.
Much of the early research on blueberries focused on its ability to improve neuro-cognitive function. The little fruit contain compounds that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Not everything we consume can penetrate this barrier. Blueberries improve short-term memory, verbal memory, and enhances spatial relationship ability.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with abnormal proteins in the brain. Blueberries inhibit the production of these proteins. Animal studies suggest that blueberries can minimize the damage to the brain from strokes, too.
Don’t underestimate the health benefits of those small blueberries. Sometimes good things come in small packages.
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