Eating wild blueberries could help save a stunning 37 percent of the U.S. adult population
(Naturalhealth365) Metabolic syndrome, a linked constellation of unhealthy conditions, currently affects a stunning 37 percent of the adult population in America. And, most doctor know that drugs are not the solution to this growing problem. Yet, you will rarely (if ever) hear a conventionally-trained healthcare provider talk about how a good diet – especially the consumption of wild blueberries – offers the power to heal.
This syndrome is defined by the American Heart Association as the presence of three or more factors that include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, excess fats in the blood, insulin resistance and increased tendency of the blood to clot. (Obviously, the identification of any substance that can help alleviate or reverse this dangerous spiral of ill health would be very good news indeed).
For example, recent studies support the ability of wild blueberries to target some of the pathologies associated with metabolic syndrome – including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (now, we just have to get our medical professionals to read this kind of information)
Wild blueberries improve arterial function and help ward off heart disease
In an animal study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers found that wild blueberry consumption lowers blood pressure and reduces oxidative stress, thereby improving or preventing conditions associated with metabolic syndrome – including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
To conduct the study, the team used a group of obese rats and a control group of lean rats – and placed them on either a wild blueberry-enriched diet or a standard diet for 8 weeks. The scientists found that the blueberry diet regulated and improved the balance between relaxation and constriction in the rats’ vascular walls, improving blood flow and blood pressure.
The blueberry diet also helped to suppress production of the inflammatory chemical COX-2.
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Study co-author Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, Ph.D., a professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Maine, noted that earlier studies had shown that wild blueberries could reduce chronic inflammation and improve abnormal lipid profiles in rats with high blood pressure.
The significance of the new study, said Prof. Klimis-Zacas, lay in the fact that wild blueberries benefited obese rats as well – adding another layer to the berries’ potential for fighting metabolic syndrome.
Wild blueberries reduce high blood sugar associated with metabolic syndrome
In a 2013 study published in Pharmacological Research, obese mice with high blood sugar were given either plain soybean flour or blueberry-enriched soybean flour for 13 weeks.
The mice were already being given an extremely high-fat diet, and all of them gained weight.
However, the mice receiving the blueberry-enriched flour gained 5.6 percent less weight – and experienced improved glucose tolerance, a decrease in blood sugar levels and a substantial 13.2 percent drop in serum cholesterol, all within seven weeks.
In other words, blueberry extract reduced indicators of metabolic syndrome.
Are there any clinical studies of blueberries’ effects?
Yes. In addition to animal research, studies on humans attest to the benefits of blueberries.
A study conducted at Louisiana State University found that daily consumption of whole blueberries helped people reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
And, a 2010 placebo-controlled study published in Journal of Nutrition showed that drinking blueberry-enriched smoothies improved insulin sensitivity in obese patients.
Other clinical studies have shown that blueberries promote the health of the gut microbiota, or community of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. And several influential studies have shown that blueberries and blueberry juice provide cognitive benefits, and may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Experts reveal: Why blueberries are antioxidant “superstars”
Studies have shown that blueberries have extremely high levels of phenolics. These compounds, which include anthocyanins and flavonoids, are produced by plants to protect them against injury, harsh temperatures and disease. (For this reason, wild blueberries – grown under more severe conditions than farm-raised or “high bush” berries – provide more phenolic “bang for the buck.”)
Blueberries are particularly rich in antioxidants – compounds which scavenge and neutralize the damaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress and degenerative disease. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, supplementation with wild blueberry powder increased participants’ serum antioxidant status by 8.5 percent – within an hour.
On the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Scale – blueberries outscore 20 other fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, raspberries and plums. (Wild blueberries – with double the antioxidant capacity of the cultivated variety – score highest of all.)
In the cellular antioxidant assay, another measure of antioxidant activity, blueberries’ potential towered over that of cranberries, apples and grapes – powerful antioxidant foods in their own right.
Although fresh, wild blueberries have unparalleled antioxidant capacity, cultivated blueberries offer major benefits as well. Both types are rich in disease-fighting phenolics, antioxidant vitamin C and healthy fiber.
If fresh berries are unavailable or too costly, you can obtain blueberry extracts in frozen, liquid or powdered form. To avoid exposure to harmful pesticides, it’s best to opt for organic berries.
Studies to explore the amazing health benefits of the amazing blueberry are ongoing – and will more than likely yield still more impressive results. Remember: when it comes to fighting metabolic syndrome, these little berries are powerful ammunition.
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Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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