Blueberries

(Along with their “Sidekicks:” Purple or Green Grapes, Cranberries, Boysenberries, Raspberries, Goji Berries, Strawberries, Currants, Blackberries, Cherries, and All Other Varieties of Fresh, Frozen, or Freeze-Dried Berries)

A source of:

  • blueberries01Synergy of multiple nutrients and phytonutrients
  • Polyphenols (proanthocyanins, anthocyanins, quercetin, catechins)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Carotenoids
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Low calories
Copyrighted Material*

Blueberries are perhaps everyone’s favorite SuperFood. Blueberries are such powerful health promoters that if you ate only three SuperFoods, blueberries, along with wild Alaskan salmon and spinach, you would be ahead of the game. Amazingly rich in phytonutrients, particularly  one type known as anthocyanins, blueberries preserve cell health and help prevent many of the degenerative diseases that plague us as we age. Here’s what you need to know about blueberries in a nutshell: Blueberries contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than most other fruits. They’re absolute powerhouses in the world of health-promoting foods.

The list of vital nutrients in blueberries is longer than that of virtually any other food. They are heart-healthy, with the ability to raise HDL cholesterol. But perhaps one of their greatest assets is their ability to protect the brain from the degenerative effects of oxidative stress, thereby preventing the development of age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The extraordinary power of blueberries derives from their rich supply of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the red/blue pigment in blueberries and their sidekicks, and they perform a range of impressive health-promoting functions that primarily help neutralize the effects of free-radical damage to cells and tissues. Anthocyanins also enhance the positive effects of vitamin C.

Anthocyanins have been shown to improve glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, and the functioning of a particular cell in the pancreas that’s responsible for insulin production and secretion. A large study showed that a high intake of anthocyanins (particularly through the consumption of blueberries) was significantly correlated with a lower rate of type 2 diabetes.

blueberries02Berries also contain carotenoids, fiber, folic acid, and vitamin C, each of which makes a major contribution to long-term health. Antioxidant carotenoids work to modulate your immune system, increase the UV protective capacity of your skin, decrease the redness of your skin after sun exposure, decrease the incidence of age-related macular degeneration, inhibit abnormal cell growth, and decrease the mutation rate of cells.

The most exciting news about blueberries is their effect on brain health. This benefit has been widely reported, but is no less exciting than when first discovered. Researchers have found that blueberries can help to protect the brain against oxidative stress, which may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Given that statistically nearly half of those persons reaching age 85 face the possibility of developing some sort of dementia, this is reason enough to eat blueberries frequently. In addition, oxidative stress can lead to cancer, atherosclerosis, cataracts, macular degeneration, and other adverse effects of aging.

The other health benefits of blueberries are also extremely impressive. We know that blueberries contribute to cardiovascular health; we now know another reason why. In addition to anthocyanin, blueberries contain a compound called pterostilbene, which may be able to lower cholesterol as effectively as many drugs. It’s not yet known how many blueberries one would have to eat to duplicate the results that have been demonstrated in animal studies, but it is further evidence of the power of this delicious fruit to promote health.

In brief, blueberry consumption is associated with:

  • Brain health and preservation of cognitive ability; prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Diabetes prevention
  • Vision/eye health
  • Urinary tract health
  • Decreased inflammation

*This brief summary contains copyrighted material from SuperFoods HealthStyle by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews. Copyright © 2006 by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews Inc., published by HarperCollins; and from SuperFoods Rx For Pregnancy by Steven Pratt, M.D. Copyright © 2013 by SuperFoods Partners, LLC, published by Wiley. All rights reserved.