(NaturalNews) Two new studies add to the growing body of research about the many health benefits of consuming blueberries. Researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) have found that blueberries help to prevent obesity-related insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, while researchers from Oklahoma State University (OSU) have found similar success in using blueberries to prevent hypertension.
Published in the October issue of The Journal of Nutrition, the PBRC study found that obese participants who consumed blueberry-rich smoothies twice a day for 42 days experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity compared to participants who consumed an equally nutritious, but blueberry-free, smoothie twice a day for the same time period.
None of the participants had diabetes at the time of the study, but the blueberry compounds appeared to actually regulate the obesity-related insulin factors that are implicated in causing pre-diabetes and diabetes.
"We now know that compounds in blueberries may help obese, non-diabetic individuals maintain healthy blood glucose levels," explained Dr. April Stull, a researcher at PBRC.
In the OSU study, which was also published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers observed that patients with pre-hypertension -- that is, elevated blood pressure levels that are not quite at full hypertension levels -- responded well to drinking a beverage once a day for eight weeks that contained two cups of blended blueberries.
According to Arpita Basu, professor of nutritional sciences at OSU and author of the study, the blueberry group saw an average drop of seven-to-eight points in systolic blood pressure by the end of the evaluation period.
"Many patients rely too heavily on medication to help control blood glucose," explained Basu. "A diet that includes blueberries is a component of a healthier lifestyle that also includes diet and exercise."