They Ate Up All My Blueberries

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By Al Sears, MD

anti-oxidants blueberries

Blueberries make a great snack

Blueberries are one of my favorite snacks.

I’ve tried to grow blueberries at my house along with other fruits in my garden. It almost drove me crazy.

The easy part is that blueberry bushes like to be in full sunshine and get about an inch of rain a week … no problem in South Florida, right?

The hard part is that blueberries like soil with a lot of acid content. You have to start preparing it a year before you’ll be able to eat them!

I had to experiment a little to get the soil right. And once I was able to grow them, I was really excited…

Except the raccoons ate them all.

I must have some really healthy raccoons in the woods around my house. Blueberries have lots of fiber which helps prevent heart disease, and they’re low on the glycemic index (40), so they don’t spike your blood sugar. And eating them can help your memory and other mental abilities.

But the newest research on blueberries has found two exciting things. They can help fight hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and protect your liver.

In one study, researchers from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture looked at animals with atherosclerosis. They gave a formula with only 1 percent freeze-dried whole blueberries to one of two groups. The other group’s formula did not contain the berry powder. After 20 weeks, the blueberry formula group had as much as 58 percent less artery hardening than the non-blueberry group.1

And blueberries help your liver, too. Most people think of it as just a blood filter. But your liver does some of the best stuff that happens inside you.

One of those things is that your liver turns almost every nutrient you put in your body into the proper form so you can use it for energy.

In other words, your liver helps your body act more youthful, and keeps the needle in your energy tank on “Full.”

Eating blueberries helps in two ways. The first is that blueberries help you make more of the super-antioxidant called SOD. I call it the body’s “master guardian.” This ultimate antioxidant can keep liver damage from happening in the first place.

Blueberries also can reduce damage that might have already occurred. In one study, researchers gave animals liver disease, and then fed one group a regular diet and another a “blueberry prevention” diet. The blueberry-fed animals all had their liver disease significantly weakened, and had reduced signs of liver injury.2

It’s easy to add blueberries to what you eat. If you can’t grow blueberries at home, fresh blueberries are available for nearly eight months of the year.

The biggest blueberry producers in the United States are Maine and Michigan, where they have the perfect soil and summer sun. Stay away from blueberries from South America. Other countries often spray their fruits with toxic pesticides.

If you already eat blueberries and you’re looking for ways to get more, the first thing you want to know is that many processed foods like cereals, pastries, bagels, breads and breakfast bars are not made with real blueberries.

Instead, manufacturers are faking blueberry content using artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.

Stick with real blueberries or products more likely to have real blueberries in them like organic jams and yogurts.

References

1. Wu, X., Kang, J., Xie, C., et al, “Dietary Blueberries Attenuate Atherosclerosis in Apolipoprotein E-Deficient Mice,” Journal of Nutrition 2010 ; 140 (9)

2. Wang, Y.P., Cheng, M.L., Zhang, B.F., et al, “Effects of blueberry on hepatic fibrosis and transcription factor Nrf2 in rats,” World J. Gastroenterol. June 7, 2010;16(21):2657-63

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