by Geri Walton ~ February 22nd, 2009
You’ve probably heard that blueberries are supposed to be a super food and a nutritional powerhouse. Indeed, they seem to offer some great health benefits due to their antioxidant compounds, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, a main component in numerous diseases. They’ve also been touted to improve mental deterioration, and the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale, a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of various foods, lists them as having one of the highest values. Health benefits attributed to the blueberry include:
- Cancer Fighter. Anthocyanins have the potential to fight cancer, and blueberries are loaded with them. Two studies—Neto and Seeram—found that blueberries have the ability to inhibit oral, breast, colon, and prostate cancer tumors.
- Free-Radical Inhibitor. Blueberries have flavonoids, and one flavonoid, anthocyanins, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which gives them the potential to fight chronic ailments and battle disease-causing free radicals.
- Memory Aid. Brain neurons signal one another and when they can’t do it efficiently, memory is affected. Fortunately, blueberries are considered a memory food because they improve neuron signaling, and, according to the BBC, they not only prevent memory loss but also reverse it.
- Oxidative Stress Reducer. Oxidative stress is connected to diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, and heart disease. Blueberries were found to protect against oxidative stress during exercise, and, in addition, they were noted to help oxidative stress in the aging. Another study also reported blueberries to significantly enhance red blood cell resistance against oxidative stress.
- Vision Saver. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that consuming three or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) by 36 percent when compared to people who eat less than 1.5 servings of fruit each day. ARMD may not be the only vision benefit because another study, using rats, found blueberries also aid against cataracts.
Blueberries are available in thirty different varieties and were first cultivated in the early 20th century by a botanist named Elizabeth White who worked for United States Department of Agriculture. White went on to establish a commercial blueberry business, and although we can thank White for our ability to enjoy blueberries today, it is nature we can thank for our ability to indulge in such a tasty fruit that fights disease, improves memory, and protects vision.