The Mighty Blueberry
Blueberries are incredible plants. They can grow wild practically anywhere in the northeastern United States and Canada, and are quite tasty. Blueberry bushes can cover vast stretches of meadows and become the dominant plant. Amazingly, they thrive after forest fires, even after they burn themselves. To go along with the plant's hardiness and the berry's deliciousness, blueberries offer great health benefits. According to a new study from Texas Woman's University (TWU) in Denton, TX, blueberries have a positive effect on aging, metabolism, and inhibiting the development of fat cells.
The berry is great for the heart and cardio system due to its high polyphenol antioxidant content. These compounds have the ability to scavenge free radicals such as hydrogen peroxide, which must be removed from cells to maintain healthy metabolic function. These antioxidants can also be found in a variety of other fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, and grapes.
According to Shiwani Moghe, graduate student at TWU, blueberries could play a large role in reducing the epidemic of obesity. She tested whether the blueberry polyphenols played a role in adipocyte differentiation, which is the process where a relatively unspecialized cell acquires the specialized features of an adipocyte. An adipocyte is an animal tissue cell specialized for the synthesis and storage of fat.
Plant polyphenols are known to resist the development of fat cells. They actively break down fat compounds and lipids. The idea is to see if these plant polyphenols could be translated into fighting fat cells in animals, i.e. humans. Moghe was determined to find out if the blueberry polyphenols could inhibit obesity at the molecular level.
She experimented on tissue cultures taken from lab mice, giving each different doses of blueberry polyphenols to see their effect on adipocyte differentiation. The higher dose group had a 73% decrease in fat compounds. The lower dose group had a 27% decrease.
"We still need to test this dose in humans, to make sure there are no adverse effects, and to see if the doses are as effective. This is a burgeoning area of research. Determining the best dose for humans will be important," said Moghe. "The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body."
This research was presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting for the American Society for Nutrition on April 10, 2011.
For more information: http://www.blueberrycouncil.com/