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Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries

Blueberries

Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, a serving contains about 14 mg or almost 25% of daily requirement for Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for the formation of collagen and to maintain healthy gums and capillaries. It also aids in the absorption of iron and promotes a healthy immune system. Blueberries contain substances that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. According to the USDA database of the antioxidant activity of selected foods (ORAC values), blueberries rank among the highest on a per serving basis. The antioxidant capacity of blueberries is 6,552 micromoles TE/100g.4 Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins that give blueberries their blue hue, are the major contributors to the antioxidant activity of blueberries. At a 2007 symposium on berry health benefits were reports showing consumption of blueberries (and similar berry fruits including cranberries) may alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer's disease and other conditions of aging. A chemical isolated from blueberry leaves can block replication of the hepatitis C virus and might help to delay disease spread in infected individuals. Feeding blueberries to animals lowers brain damage in experimental stroke. Research at Rutgers has also shown that blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. Other animal studies found that blueberry consumption lowered cholesterol and total blood lipid levels, possibly affecting symptoms of heart disease. Additional research showed that blueberry consumption in rats altered glycosaminoglycans which are vascular cell components affecting control of blood pressure. A study soon to be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that supplementation with wild blueberry juice enhanced memory and learning in older adults, while reducing blood sugar and symptoms of depression.
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