One of my families favorite summer camping memories dates to when we found our tents pitched next to a small blueberry patch. Not only was the patch small so were the blueberries, but not their taste. Sumptuous may be the best term to describe the flavor of the wild blueberry pancakes we all wolfed down with glee.
The taste and fun of eating our own wild picked berries was memorable, and little did we realize then that we were giving our bodies as well as our taste buds a treat.
Blueberries, it turns out, are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are packed with a wide range of micro-nutrients that not only protect the body from disease, but are also believed to posses anti-aging abilities.
High Antioxidant Value
Blueberries along with plums and strawberries have the highest total anti-oxidant properties of any food. They have been called super fruits. Their anti oxidant properties help neutralize free radicals that are created by the bodies own natural processes as well as fight those absorbed by the body as toxins from the environment around us.
While most of this work is done invisibly at the molecular level within each of the billions of cells that make up your body, the net results appears to be one of increased longevity of cells and the organs they make up. The net result is a healthier body, and a less run down one. In other words, they help you look, feel and stay younger than you might otherwise.
Blueberries contain 14 mg or Vitamin C and 0.8 mg Vitamin E per 1 cup of blueberries. These vitamins are critical to your bodies war against free radicals. But blueberries also contain lesser known anti-oxidants such as anthocyanins and phenolics.
The compound anthocyanin is thought to slow down age-related loss in mental capacity of the brain in humans. People who tend to eat more blueberries are thought to have better functioning motor behavior learning and memory.
Anthocyanin is the component that gives blueberries their color and are thought to be the key factor of the blueberry’s extraordinary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tests with rats by Tufts University researcher, James Joseph showed significant positive effects to balance and coordination for test groups that were feed a blueberry rich diet. A similar group feed a strawberry enhanced diet also did well, however the blueberry diet did the best.
Dr. Joseph believes the benefits stem from yet another set of micro nutrients called flavonoids, a phytochemical that seems to have significant impact on cell membranes.
These studies suggest that blueberries and similar foods may be beneficial to those suffering poor balance and coordination related to aging.
Prevention of Disease
A serving of blueberries provides a relatively low glycemic load while providing a diverse range of nutrients.
This also means there are fewer calories (good news for calorie-watchers) in a serving full of phytochemicals and nutrients such as iron, vitamins C and E. Because of the phytochemicals present, the risk of developing a variety of degenerative diseases may also be prevented.
Specifically, the Anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and tannins found in blueberries may help prevent cancer by inhibiting some cancer mechanisms. These components protect the DNA in each of your cells from damage and/or the disintegration caused by free radicals.
At a seminar on berry health benefits, a variety of reports suggest that eating blueberries and other similar fruits like cranberries may improve the cognitive deterioration occurring in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of aging. It is also believed that Blueberries may help lower the damages of stroke.
Researches have also shown that blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI), hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia which can lead to potentially fatal heart disease.
While these benefits of blueberries focus on diseases and getting old, the value of blueberries is actually in their ability to help us stay young.
Now one cannot live on blueberries alone, but if you are looking for a “favorite food” to add to your personal “Staying Young” strategy it would do you well to consider saving room for this wonderful little super fruit, the Blueberry.