Blueberry plant is a berry that grows on shrubs of the Vaccinium genus from North America, where mostly they are found. Blueberries are close to bilberry (whortleberry or European blueberry), but have different characteristics such as their color, their slightly less sweet taste and specific properties. Wild blueberries are very small while the cultivated ones are larger. A cultivated blueberry usually grows on a shrub that can reach over 1 meter (100 cm) in height, while a wild one grows low to the ground, on a bush about ten centimeters.
Among twenty fruits analyzed, blueberry is ranked first in term of antioxidant capacity. Closely follow cranberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry. It is even better when the fruit is eaten fresh. Therefore, do not neglect to color your plates with this berry to help your body fight free radicals, agents leading to many medical conditions.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
It is known that a diet rich in fruits and vegetable is very beneficial. Importance to eat a grand variety is the fact each fruit or vegetable provides their specific nutrients, thus health benefits. Although we cannot make any claim “blueberries cancer treatment”, studies have shown regular consumption may help fight the disease. Below are some health benefits of consuming blueberries regularly.
Anti-Cancer – some studies have showed that extracts of blueberry and blueberry have antioxidant properties capable of fighting cancer cells. In fact, they have the highest compared to those of other berries: strawberry, cranberry, raspberry and elderberry. Bilberry extract was the most potent in inhibiting the growth of leukemic cells and colon cancer cells. Flavonoids (or bioflavonoids) from blueberry and bilberry may also be protective against certain cancers. Blueberries act on the DNA of the by preventing the generation of certain cancer-causing mutations. Blueberries cancer fighting properties are still under study; more discoveries are yet to come.
It is observed in laboratory that the juice of wild blueberry, raspberry and cranberry would slow the growth of human cancer cells mainly in the stomach, prostate, and bowel. Blueberry extracts may also have a preventive effect against breast cancer by decreasing the proliferation of the malignant cells and tumor incidence. Blueberries kill cancer cells in other organs, but more studies are needed to confirm. Although these studies were performed in vitro, the portion of blueberry extracts used for humans was about ¾ cup (185 mL, 120 g) of fresh blueberries per day for a 60 kg person.
Some other Blueberries Benefits
Anti-cardiovascular Disease – Clinical and epidemiological studies indicate that consumption of flavonoids in foods and beverages may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular risk factor. In addition, blueberries contain phenol, a chemically active compound which is found in some plants. It helps to slow the onset of cardiovascular diseases by reducing blood lipids from oxidation; the oxidative stress leads to cell death and inflammation of the vasculature.
Animal studies have shown blueberries benefits are enormous. For instance, along with a diet rich in vegetables it has shown to decrease bad cholesterol levels. According to some researchers, blueberries would act in synergy with certain foods such as non-GMO soybeans, oats and barley, and improve the lipid profile of the blood. Although no big study has shown, to date, such an effect in humans, the authors suggest that with equivalent doses, about 2 cups (500 ml) per day, the observed effects could occur in humans.
Anti-diabetic – Studies at the University of Montreal have shown that fermented wild blueberry juice has antidiabetic properties. This juice helps to protect against the development of diabetes or glucose intolerance. It also would prevent hyperglycemia in diabetic mice, and the development of diabetes and obesity in pre-diabetic mouse. Another study concludes that blueberry powder added to a high-fat diet confers protection against insulin resistance and hyperglycemia.
UTIs – E coli is the main cause of urinary tract infections. An in vitro study has shown that a precise fraction of blueberry flavonoids could prevent bacterium E. coli (Escherichia coli) to adhere to the walls of the urinary tract. However, no large no clinical studies have confirmed the effect of the actual consumption on the prevention of urinary tract infections. Scientists just theorize regular consumption can decrease the risk for developing UTI.
Anti-aging Disorders – a plant based diet is the best weapon against disorders related to aging. Not only eating blueberries could helps prevent balance and coordination problems, but also provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection in elderly people. Fermented blueberry juice may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases by protecting the neurons against oxidative stress. Blueberries could thus help decrease the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. Studies in humans and animals have shown that blueberry juice consumption may improve tasks related to memory. The addition of blueberry extracts to animal diet would prevent also the cognitive decline and may even improve it.