Let’s not beat around the bush: Blueberries are good for you according to the American Heart Association.
This will come as no surprise to many Americans, who have found their thrill with blueberries in ever-rising numbers. It’s easy to understand why. Not only do they taste great, but studies keep suggesting more reasons to embrace them.
“They’re the kind of things we should be eating,” said Eric Decker, professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “But sometimes these things get overpromised.”
Vaguely defined terms such as “superfood” get used a lot with blueberries, whose popularity has been fueled by careful marketing. “Anytime you start talking about ‘superfoods’ and ‘super fruits,’ it’s probably a little overexaggerated,” Decker said.
“Since the 1990s, research on the health benefits of blueberries has grown exponentially,” wrote guest editor Donald K. Ingram, PhD, FGSA, in an opening editorial. “Studies have documented that this fruit ranks highest in antioxidant activity compared to many other popular fruits. Moreover, other mechanisms for the health benefits of blueberries, such as their anti-inflammatory properties, have been identified.”
Ingram’s editorial is followed by four articles in a special section of the journal’s Biological Sciences section. One of the studies found that consuming 200 grams of blueberries (about one cup) daily can improve blood vessel function and decrease systolic blood pressure. As the cause, the authors cited anthocyanins, which are phytochemicals that give blueberries their dark color.
Other studies document the cognitive benefits of eating blueberries. One tied the fruit’s high polyphenol count to improved performance on memory tests by a group of older adults. Likewise, another journal article provides a review of several clinical studies focusing on benefits of blueberry supplementation — with a focus on specific memory effects in children as well as older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
The journal collection also includes a rodent study, which presents data on the improved memory performance of blueberry-supplemented aged rats compared to rats on a control diet.
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The blueberry, already labeled a ‘super fruit’ for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams. The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.
The researchers presented their work at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS. It featured more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics. Continue reading →