Blueberry fights HCV, sharpens memory, say researchers

blueberry-benefitsBlueberries are one of the best foods offered by nature. They are native to North America, and are well-known for their anti-cancerous properties. Experts recommend daily consumption of blue berries due to their high flavanoid content and superior health qualities.

The latest researches have revealed additional benefits of eating blueberries. For instance, these purple-hued fruits help in sharpening memory, and also fights Hepatitis C virus.

The Tufts University researchers carried out an experiment on rats, wherein it was found that the rats that had been fed a diet with containing 2 percent blueberry extract, did better in navigating a maze, than rats that did not get the compound. The researchers noticed that rats when fed with blueberries, showed increased cell growth in the hippocampus region of the brain.

According to researchers, the ╦ťanthocyan present in the dark blue pigment of blueberries is responsible for these cognitive changes. It contains chemicals that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and lodge in regions governing learning and memory.

In yet another recent research by University of Miyazaki in Japan, it has been revealed that a chemical present in blueberry leaves halts growth of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which has been infecting about 200 million people worldwide, eventually leading to Liver Cirrhosis.

At present there is no vaccine for HCV. Although there are combinations of drugs that can clear an HCV infection, it is only 60 percent effective, with severe side effects.

The study lead, Hiroaki Kataoka and his colleages believe that as HCV is localized to liver, it can take more than 20 years to develop into disease, and therefore, a dietary supplement can help in stopping the progression of this disease.

After screening several agricultural products, they found a strong potential in the leaves of rabbit-eye blueberry. They identified a compound known as proanthocyandin, a polyphenol similar to the chemicals in grapes and wine, and noted that its effective concentration against HCV was 100 times less than toxic threshold.

Similar chemicals are also found in several other edible plants, which suggest that it could be a safe dietary supplement.

Other health benefits:

The phytochemicals and flavanoids in blueberries help in protection against vascular instability.

A decoction of Blueberry leaves has long-since been used in folk medicine for treatment of diabetes. Further researches have confirmed that oral administration reduced elevated blood sugar levels, when administering glucose simultaneously.
The researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center say that blueberries are the topmost in anti-oxidant activity, in comparison to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables, thus preventing age-related diseases.

Pterostilbene compound in blueberries has the potential to be developed into a neutraceutical for lowering cholesterol levels.

Blueberries are also a natural remedy for persistent diarrhea and acute enteritis. They also prevent eye damage, treat myopia, and protects against retinal degeneration.

Extract of blueberry helps in destroying funguses, bacteria and yeasts, while an infusion of blueberries works as a stimulating astringent for sore throats and mouth sores. Due to their astringent properties, they have also been used to treat hemorrhoids.

To make an infusion of blueberries or blueberry leaves, take three fresh blueberries or 1 tsp. dried, in a non-aluminum pan, and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Do not boil herb, but allow it to steep for 15-20 minutes.

So stock up on blueberries, sprinkle them over your cereal or yogurt, or fold them into a smoothie. They can also be purchased in capsule form or extracts, teas, or natural states.