They are the ingredient to America’s most popular muffin. They are a powerful antioxidant. They contain anthocyanin, a chemical that can enhance eyesight. They help prevent diabetes and heart conditions and now the small round fruit has also been discovered to help ease Parkinson’s.
Blueberries, of course, have been identified as a potential aid to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s. Researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, found that in fruit fly models that had a gene linked to Parkinson’s, blueberry extract increased lifespan and improved eye defects.
Previous studies have suggested that alpha-synuclein plays a pivotal role in regulating the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motor control that needs to be boosted in patients with Parkinson’s.
Co-author, Dr. Brian Staveley, of the Department of Biology at Memorial explains: “This gene is proven to be the cause of inherited Parkinson’s in human families that have more of the gene, or an unusual form of it.”
Alpha-synuclein is a protein found in the brain that is linked to the release of neurotransmitters chemical messengers crucial in regular brain function. The team investigated to see if blueberry extract would improve these defects in the flies.
Being a rich source of fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients in blueberries were the ideal candidates in the scientist’s theory. The researchers found that flies that were fed the blueberry extract had up to an eight day greater lifespan than flies that had been fed a standard diet. In addition, blueberry extract appeared to improve eye defects in the flies.
Dr. Staveley believes the results found are important in the understanding of Parkinson’s, yet findings such as these in food deserve more medical testing, alike to that performed on pharmaceutical and nutraceutical drugs.
He said: “So, what you get instead is: ‘Eat this. It’s good for you.’ That’s great, by approaching it from a scientific perspective however, we hope to be able to see exactly what a particular extract can do in fly models.”
Blueberries have featured in many health articles in the past century, attached to a host of different medical benefits. Aiding weight reduction is a key feature in their blue make-up, with just one small cup of blueberries providing enough fibre to aid digestion, counteract cholesterol and leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
Touted as one of the superfoods for diabetics, blueberries have a very low glycemic index, which helps control your sugar levels and insulin. Combined with a reasonable diet, the fruit has also been proven to increase your metabolism, another beneficial character in weight reduction.
As we know, fruit and vegetable are the king of providing nutrients and vitamins. Blueberries perch at the top of the throne bosting endless supplies of cold and infection improving bacteria. Of all fruits, blueberries have the highest volume of antioxidants to counter free radicals that lead to illness and aging in the body. These antioxidants also help colon, liver and ovarian issues. Similar to cranberries, blueberries will also keep your urinary tract health in check by preventing infection and clearing out bacteria.
They are one of the only foods natural in their colour. They are one of the oldest fruits, able to be traced back 13,000 years. They are the state fruit of New Jersey. Their peak season runs from June-August and they should be found brightening up your fridge.
What is your favourite blueberry recipe?