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Tags: blueberries | natural | weapon | treat | Alzheimers | heart
Blueberries: A Natural Weapon to Treat Alzheimer's, Heart Disease, and Cancer
(Copyright DPC)

Blueberries: A Natural Weapon to Treat Alzheimer's, Heart Disease, and Cancer

By    |   Tuesday, 29 March 2016 03:13 PM EDT


Blueberries have been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages, and today have the reputation of being a "super fruit," lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer. New research reinforces their standing as a powerful weapon against disease, finding that the large amounts of antioxidants in blueberries may help prevent the devastating effects of Alzheimer's.

A recent study at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center gave older adults with mild cognitive impairment either freeze-dried blueberry powder equivalent to a cup of fresh berries, or a placebo powder. After 16 weeks, those taking the blueberry powder showed an improvement in cognitive abilities when compared to those who took the placebo powder.

"The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts," said research leader Robert Krikorian, Ph.D. In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed increased brain activity in those who took the blueberry powder.

Krikorian believes the mind-boosting effects of blueberries could be due to a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve short-term memory in animals.

Other studies show blueberries are powerful allies in treating the following:

Diabetes: Numerous studies have found that blueberries help improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. One study funded by the National Institutes of Health followed health professionals for as long as 24 years, and found that eating two or more servings of blueberries a week lowered diabetes risk by 23 percent.

Another study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, found that replacing daily fruit juice with blueberries could reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 33 percent.

Vision: Blueberries contain anthocyanins, the chemical that gives blueberries, bilberries, and blackberries their dark purple color. Anthocyanins fight inflammation and keep the arteries and vessels from narrowing, including the ones that feed the eyes.

A Russian study found that bilberry extract (similar chemically to blueberries) completely prevented cataracts in rats genetically modified to have a 70 percent risk of developing them.

Other studies have found that blueberries improve night vision, reduce eyestrain and protect against glaucoma.

Immunity: Blueberries contain compounds called stilbenoids that researchers at Oregon's Linus Pauling Institute found team with vitamin D to increase the expression of a gene called the CAMP gene, which is involved in immune function. The combination of the stilbenoids and vitamin D was more effective than either would be separately.

The CAMP gene plays a key role in the "innate" immune system, the body's first line of defense against disease and bacterial infections, which researchers say is especially important since many antibiotics are losing their effectiveness.

Heart attacks: An 18-year study of almost 93,600 women found that those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries — three or more servings a week — reduced their risk of a heart attack by a third when compared to women who ate berries once a month or less. Experts believe anthocyanins help prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries.

"We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life," said lead author Aedín Cassidy of the U.K.'s University of East Anglia.

High blood pressure: A collaboration between researchers from Harvard and Britain's University of East Anglia studied the diets of 134,000 women and 47,000 men and found that those who ate at least one serving of blueberries a week cut their risk of high blood pressure by 10 percent. Again, the beneficial compound is believed to be the high amounts of anthocyanins contained in blueberries.

Cancer. Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham believe that eating one cup of blueberries daily could prevent the free-radical cell damage that leads to cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there is convincing evidence that blueberries lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

When researchers at Rutgers University fed rats a diet supplemented with a compound found in blueberries called pterostilbene, rats with colon cancer had 57 percent fewer precancerous lesions after eight weeks than rats who didn't get the compound. Experts at the University of Texas' MD Anderson Center say the antioxidants in berries also protect cells from damage that could lead to skin, bladder, lung, breast, and esophagus cancer.

For patients undergoing radiation for cancer, a study published in the journal eCAM found that blueberries protect the body from damage caused by radiation.


© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.


Headline
Blueberries have been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages, and today have the reputation of being a super fruit, lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer. New research reinforces their standing as a powerful weapon against disease, finding that the large...
blueberries, natural, weapon, treat, Alzheimers, heart
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2016-13-29
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 03:13 PM
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