Eating a cup of blueberries a day protects you against heart disease and cancer, scientists discover
Did you know that blueberries can help prevent cancer and heart disease?
For the study, researchers conducted a double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial. The researchers observed 48 post-menopausal women diagnosed with pre-hypertension (stage one hypertension).
During each day of the trial, half of the women were fed either a placebo or 22 g of freeze-dried blueberry powder that was equivalent to a cup of fresh blueberries. While the trial was ongoing, the researchers took note of the women’s blood pressure and their nitric oxide levels.
The researchers also recorded arterial stiffness among the participants via brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (PWV), which is thought to be the best way to determine arterial damage.
Arterial stiffness is a symptom of atherosclerosis, and it often indicates cardiovascular risk. The condition also indicates that the heart needs to work harder to get blood to the peripheral blood vessels.
Within eight weeks the women who consumed the blueberry powder lowered their systolic blood pressure by 5.1 percent. Their diastolic blood pressure went down by 6.3 percent. No changes were noted among the female participants who took the placebo.
On average, the women who took the blueberry powder also reduced their arterial stiffness by about 6.5 percent. Once again, there were no changes among the placebo group.
The researchers posited that the health benefits were because of the whopping 68.5 percent increase in blood levels of nitric oxide in the women who took the blueberry powder.
Nitric oxide can widen blood vessels, which increases increase blood flow and lowers blood pressure. There were no changes in the nitric oxide levels of the women who took the placebo.
Blueberries the best “drug” for blood pressure?
“Once again, scientific research demonstrates the remarkable properties of everyday fruits to initiate extraordinary healing in the human body,” noted food scientist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, author of Food Forensics and publisher of Food.news. “A surprising number of prescription medications can be replaced with nutritive therapies involving common fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds,” Adams explained. “Yet there is no overarching profit interest to promote healing foods across society, since there’s hardly any profit to be earned from blueberries, while there’s tremendous profit to be extracted from patients who are prescribed monopoly-priced blood pressure drugs.”
The researchers noted that the results of the study prove that blood pressure can be controlled with the addition of a single dietary component like blueberries. They concluded that “daily blueberry consumption may be effective in preventing the progression of pre-hypertension to hypertension in postmenopausal women.”
While other berries contain polyphenols that can help “improve blood pressure, endothelial function, and arterial stiffness,” blueberries are one of the best sources of polyphenols. Additionally, blueberries contain powerful antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and stilbenes.
Earlier studies have determined that wild blueberries can boost endothelial function. A separate study proved that consuming at least three or more servings of blueberries weekly can lower the risk of heart attack by about 32 percent.
According to a separate study by researchers from North Carolina, eating blueberries daily can help people with pre-hypertension reduce their diastolic blood pressure compared to placebo.
The North Carolina study also showed that blueberries could increase natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells refer to white blood cells that are necessary so the immune system can protect the body against foreign invaders such as viruses and tumors.
NK cells scan the body for abnormal cells which are then destroyed before they can turn into cancers.
For the North Carolina study, researchers grouped 25 sedentary participants into two groups. The participants included both men and post-menopausal women.
During each day of the trial, a group received 38 g blueberry powder while the other group was given a placebo. The powder was equivalent to 250 g of fresh blueberries.
Within six weeks the group that received the power had significant increases in NK cell levels. The results of the trial were in line with data from previous research by the same team which found that “blueberries improve NK cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation in trained athletes.”
Studies by different research teams have also confirmed that the anthocyanins in blueberries can help prevent the free-radical damage linked to with cancer. Try to eat blueberries daily to help lower your risk of developing cancer and various heart diseases.
The other health benefits of blueberries
In case you still need convincing, here are the other health benefits of blueberries:
- Blueberries can boost skin health – The skin needs collagen, and it also needs vitamin C to help prevent skin damage due to pollution, smoke, and sun exposure. A single cup of blueberries contains 24 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
- Blueberries can keep your bones healthy – Blueberries have calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, vitamin K, and zinc. Consuming enough of these minerals and vitamins can boost bone structure and strength.
- Blueberries can help improve mental health – According to population-based studies, eating blueberries is linked to “slower cognitive decline in older women.” Aside from minimizing the risk of cognitive damage, blueberries can also boost an individual’s short-term memory and motor coordination.