(Natural News) Eat more blueberries not only because they are delicious, but also because they can protect you from bacterial infections. A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) can potentially be used as natural therapeutic agents for treating infections.
Researchers at Université Laval in Canada looked at the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are in highbush blueberries. They then looked at the effects of the proanthocyanidins in the blueberries on the gram-negative bacteria Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, as well as in biofilm formations that have been stained with crystal violet. A. actinomycetemcomitans, in particular, is the essential factor in the etiology of localized aggressive periodontitis, the inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
The researchers also analyzed the effects of blueberry proanthocyanidins on the integrity of the oral keratinocyte barrier, leukotoxin activity, and the lipopolysaccharide-mediated inflammatory response of monocytes/macrophages.
Based on the results, the proanthocyanidins in highbush blueberry attenuated the growth of A. actinomycetemcomitans and inhibited biofilm formation. They also exhibited antibacterial activities by damaging the bacterial cell membrane. Moreover, they protected macrophages from leukotoxin’s negative effects and hampered the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, the proanthocyanidins prevented the activation of the NF-?B signaling pathway.
The findings of the study suggested that the proanthocyanidins in highbush blueberry possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities, making blueberries as potential natural therapeutic agents for treating infections.
More reasons to eat blueberries
Blueberries may be small in size, but they are packed with many nutrients. In fact, they are even labeled as a superfood. Most of the benefits that blueberries offer can be attributed to its anthocyanin content, a type of flavonoid that also gives blueberry its blue color. Flavonoids are plant compounds that often have potent antioxidant properties. The following are some of the health benefits that blueberries offer:
- Blueberries keep the bones healthy – Blueberries contain vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, and zinc, that help build and maintain bone structure and strength.
- Blueberries are good for the skin – A cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C allowance, and collagen, which is the support system of the skin, relies on vitamin C to improve skin health. Vitamin C may also enhance the ability of collagen to smooth wrinkles and improve the overall texture of the skin. Collagen also prevents skin damage brought about by the sun, pollution, and smoke.
- Blueberries lower blood pressure – Diets low in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, have been linked to higher blood pressure, and adequate intake of these minerals is believed to help lower blood pressure. Blueberries can help reduce blood pressure as they contain these minerals. (Related: The power of healthy nutrition: Just one cup of blueberries a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.)
- Blueberries prevent heart disease – Blueberries support heart health because of their fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and phytonutrient content. Moreover, blueberries do not contain cholesterol, which also makes them beneficial to the heart. In addition, blueberries’ fiber content helps to cut the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and slash the risk of heart disease.
- Blueberries ward off cancer – Blueberries are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and many phytonutrients that serve as potent antioxidants that may help protect the cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. Blueberries also contain folate, which contributes to the synthesis of DNA and repair. In turn, this can stave off the formation of cancer cells caused by DNA mutations.
- Blueberries aid digestion – The fiber content of blueberries is the reason why blueberries can help prevent constipation and keep the digestive tract healthy. Dietary fiber also aids in weight loss and weight management as it increases satiety and suppresses appetite.
Read more news stories and studies on the many health benefits of blueberries by going to Blueberries.news.