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Singing the blues

Posted by wmagnus On January - 27 - 2010

While many researchers have been looking to exotic plants of the tropics and Far East for life extending and enhancing compounds, it turns out that one of the hottest areas for research is a humble fruit native to North America. Cultivated since the 1800s and harvested wild from bogs and forests by Native Americans for centuries, the blueberry has long been known to be loaded with vitamin C and more recently been noted for a variety of other beneficial plant compounds. Blueberries are fairly low calorie and carry a low glycemic load and should be on the shortlist of anyone looking for a healthy snack.

Recent years have seen volumes of research on the compounds in blueberries. Our friends at the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry have published no less than 53 papers in last year on the berry. Topics have been wide ranging, most recently they’ve found some interesting effects on vision and memory.Being chemists at heart, researchers in the Journal have found that bioflavinoids such as those in blueberries act to protect retinal cells from oxidative stress. This is particularly significant since the retina has one of the highest metabolic rates in the body and is especially susceptible to oxidative stresses. Unfortunately, the studies to date have only looked at the cells in a lab, but results are promising.

More concrete results were found in study subjects 70 and older who were suffering from memory loss and cognitive decline. Researchers at Tufts and the University of Cincinnati found that after 12 weeks of consuming blueberry juice that the study subjects showed improvement in memory and cognitive function. Results also suggested that depressive symptoms improved as did serum glucose levels. Sadly the study was small and limited to 12 subjects. The results are promising even if the amount of blueberry juice consumed was nontrivial. Seriously, 2 to 2.5 cups of blueberry juice is a lot considering that the juice tends to be a little bitter. Regardless, the study shows promise since apparently blueberries work where supplements like ginko biloba fail.

One Response to “Singing the blues”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bridget Magnus, Warren Magnus. Warren Magnus said: New post at Age Against the Machine: Singing the blues http://bit.ly/aYbK5D […]