Wild Blueberries Have Significant
Health Benefits

PORTLAND, Maine -- New research findings concluded that wild blueberries
have the potential to decrease the vulnerability of heart blood vessels to
oxidative stress and inflammatory insults in animal models. (Source: Journal of
Nutritional Biochemistry, 2006 Feb; 17(2): 109- 16.) According to the study, Wild
Blueberry phenolic compounds may have a beneficial effect on cellular signaling
within the vascular environment.

"This is the first study to document the positive effect of a Wild Blueberry-
enriched diet on the composition and structure of the extracellular matrix of
Sprague-Dawley rat aortas, which may result in lower binding of the LDL
particle on the arterial wall reducing the risk from atherosclerosis," said Dr.
Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Nutrition and lead researcher
from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Maine,
Orono. According to Dr. Klimis-Zacas, cardiovascular disease begins as a result
of oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in the vascular environment.
"Our investigation of the potential of natural antioxidants like those found in
Wild Blueberries to combat the precursors to cardiovascular disease is part of a
broader research movement to gain a better understanding of the role of diet in
disease prevention."

According to Dr. Klimis-Zacas, these results build on previous work done at the
University of Maine, Orono, which demonstrated the positive effect of a Wild
Blueberry-based diet on animal-model blood vessel function. (Journal of
Medicinal Food, Vol. 8, No. 1:8-13, March 2005.) "Our studies in the past
documented that Wild Blueberries affect the contractile machinery of the smooth
muscle cell in normotensive Sprague-Dawley rats by decreasing arterial
contractility in response to the stress hormone, epinephrine. The effect is
observed after feeding the animals the equivalent of 1/2 cup of Wild Blueberries
for 8 weeks. This has implications on blood pressure regulation and ultimately
cardiovascular disease."

A new set of studies was recently presented at the 2006 Experimental Biology
Conference in San Francisco, CA by Dr. Klimis-Zacas and her team including
post-doctoral fellow Dr. Anastasia Kalea, and graduate student Kate Clark.
(Experimental Biology 2006, Late Breaking Abstract #394). The University of
Maine research team was the first to observe greater arterial vasorelaxation in
spontaneously hypertensive animals fed a Wild Blueberry diet for 8 weeks
compared to spontaneously hypertensive animals fed control diets. These
findings suggest that Wild Blueberries affect cell-signaling pathways in
hypertension and their consumption may result in blood pressure regulation.

Nature's #1 Antioxidant Superfruit(TM)

According to Susan Davis, MS, RD, Nutrition Advisor to the Wild Blueberry
Association of North America (WBANA), Dr. Klimis-Zacas' work expands on the
importance of Wild Blueberries in helping fend off diseases of aging, like
cardiovascular disease. "Dr. Klimis-Zacas' work helps build the case for
including phytonutrient-rich foods in the diet for good nutrition and disease
prevention," said Davis. "Colorful foods like Wild Blueberries should be the
cornerstone of a healthy diet."

Davis noted that recent USDA research findings using the Oxygen Radical
Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) measure ranked Wild Blueberries highest in
antioxidant capacity per serving, compared with more than 20 other fruits. The
study showed that a one-cup serving of Wild Blueberries had more antioxidant
capacity than a serving of cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, and even
cultivated blueberries. (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,
52:4026-4037, 2004.)

Antioxidants are important in terms of their ability to protect against oxidative
cell damage that can lead to conditions like Alzheimer's disease, cancer and heart
disease -- conditions also linked with chronic inflammation. The antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory effects of blue-purple foods like Wild Blueberries may have
the potential to help prevent these diseases.  Source:
Wild Blueberry Association
of North America

See also:
Not All Blueberries are Created Equal
Maine's Pick Your Own Blueberries
Maine Wild Blueberries
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