We’ve long known that polyphenols in blueberries offer antioxidant protection that helps keep our cells youthful and our DNA strong. Recent research highlights additional protective benefits, including improved mobility, heart health, and vision. Let’s take a look at the most significant studies on blueberries from 2015.
Every year, more than 700,000 Americans are hospitalized due to injuries sustained in a fall. As we age, we lose strength, mobility, and coordination due to excess weight, insufficient movement, chronic disease, and dysfunctional neurons…all of which are exacerbated by chronic diseases such as arthritis, autoimmune conditions, and diabetes.
A 2015 study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism showed that eating 2 cups of blueberries every day for 6 weeks dramatically improved mobility in elderly participants. Gait (how steady one walks) improved significantly, and subjects who consumed blueberries daily also showed increased speeds, fewer step errors, better foot placement, and improved balance. The control group showed no such gains, which suggests that daily consumption of blueberries offers a protective and much-needed benefit against loss of mobility.
Better Vision = Better Quality of Life
Age-related macular degeneration is the primary cause of blindness in the elderly. New evidence published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that blueberries may help defend the retina against macular degeneration. Researchers tested the inhibitory effect of blueberries on daily light exposure that impacts retinal fatty acids in the eye. Results showed that polyphenols in blueberries substantially decreased this impact and protected the retina.
Decreased Cholesterol = Stronger Heart
Atherosclerosis is a condition marked by a buildup of plague in your arteries…and too much cholesterol in your bloodstream is a primary cause of this very dangerous disease. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that blueberry extract dramatically reduced cholesterol levels in mice, thereby protecting the heart against atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Researchers separated mice with high cholesterol into a control group and a group fed a high-dose of blueberry extract. Both groups were fed a high-fat diet of pig grease and corn oil for 6 weeks, with the experimental groups being fed blueberry extract the last two weeks of the study. Results were astounding. The blueberry group showed a:
- 29% decrease in total cholesterol
- 34% decrease in LDL “plague-building” cholesterol
- 40% increase in HDL “healthful” cholesterol
- 50% decrease in triglycerides and homocysteine levels
Triglycerides are a type of fate that builds up and turns normal cells into fat cells, and homocysteine is a harmful amino acid that inflames artery walls.
Brain Health = Alzheimer’s Protection
Research has confirmed time and time again that antioxidant-rich blueberries can help boost overall brain health. Recent research is showing that blueberries can also help shield the brain from structural changes that can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is believed to primarily be caused by the accumulation of dangerous beta amyloid plagues in the brain. These plaques first build up in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that controls memory, and then spreads throughout the brain’s hemispheres. A recent animal-based study using a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease showed that blueberry supplementation, when combined with the fatty acid omega-3 and the phospholipid phosphatidylserine, can significantly reduce the accumulation of these brain plaques.
Researchers separated mice into 3 groups: a control group, a group fed a low-dose blueberry extract, and a group fed a high-dose blueberry extract. After 7 months results showed that the control group had an increase in the number and volume of amyloid plaques, while both the groups fed blueberry extracts had fewer plaques and fewer signs of oxidative stress. Mice protected with blueberries also showed an increase in the neurotransmitter acetylchline, which helps optimize brain cell signaling!
That’s three more reasons to consume blueberries every day. Pop them into your daily smoothie, or sprinkle them atop your cereal or yogurt.