The Medicinal Value of Blueberries
The Medicinal Value of BlueberriesWhat does diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, skin disorders such as psoriasis, chronic fatigue, gum disease (gingivitis) and even aging have in common? All of these varied conditions have one thing in common, inflammation. It is inflammation that drives the aging process faster than any other event or process.
Inflammation can be a good thing, as it is our body’s natural response to physical and bacterial attack. When you have a soft tissue injury, white blood cells traveling in the blood stream go to the site of injury and start the healing process. However, chronic inflammation occurs when our bodies receive a message that they are under stress and thus crank up the immune system and the white blood cells and attack other organs or tissues resulting in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, some auto immune diseases and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries may just be one of the best solutions to prevent chronic inflammation. Blueberries remain one of the most nutritious, antioxidant-rich type of fruit in the world and have been shown to do everything from enhancing brain health to keeping your heart strong. Another benefit of blueberries is that these fruits are also sweet, low-calorie and delicious.
The top health benefits of blueberries include:
- High in antioxidants
- Fights cancer
- Promotes weight loss
- Enhances brain health
- Aids in digestion
- Promotes heart health
Antioxidants are compounds that fight harmful free radicals, which is responsible for many of the effects of aging on both the body and mind. It is the antioxidant property of blueberries that protect again chronic disease including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Blueberries contain the highest total antioxidant capacity of all the berries such as raspberries, blackberries and cranberries.
Blueberries are a nutrient dense food meaning that there aren’t a lot of calories in blueberries, but they pack in a good amount of vitamins and minerals. The blueberries nutrition profile is especially high in fiber, vitamin K, manganese and vitamin C.
One caveat on the consumption of blueberries: Those who are on a blood thinning medication such as Warfarin may also want to keep intake in moderation as blueberries are high in vitamin K, which can interact with these medications.
How much do you need to enjoy the anti-inflammatory effect of blueberries? You don't need much, only half a cup to a cup a day.
Blueberries are generally considered safe for most people and can be consumed with minimal risk of side effects. However, some people may be allergic to blueberries. If you experience any food allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling or difficulty breathing after eating blueberries, discontinue use and talk to your doctor immediately.
Bottom Line: Although blueberries can’t promise you the fountain of youth, they can reduce chronic inflammation and that is part and parcel of the aging process. Perhaps blueberries may keep you out of the cemetery!
Dr. Neil Baum is a Professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane Medical School.