blueberriesOn May 8, 1999 the United States Department of Agriculture proclaimed July as National Blueberry Month. It is fitting that July is the month of celebration given the importance of blueberries in American history and the fact that the United States produces over 90% of all of the blueberries in the world.

Blueberries are among the most important foods for good health. The diverse and wondrous health benefits of blueberries are primarily due to their high content of specialized pigments known as anthocyanins. These special flavonoids are responsible for the deep blue or purple color of blueberries.

Currently, the most popular medical use of blueberries is their use in improving vision and protecting against age-related macular degeneration. Additional research also points out that blueberries may be protective against the development of cataracts and glaucoma, and quite therapeutic in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers.

Another very practical application of the antioxidant activity of blueberries is in the protection against Alzheimer’s disease and age related cognitive decline. In animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, when older rats were given the human equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries a day they demonstrated significant improvements in both learning capacity and motor skills, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. When the rats’ brains were examined, the brain cells of the rats given blueberries were found to communicate more effectively than those of the other older rats that were not given blueberries.

While blueberries are an excellent food, a blueberry concentrate with all the anthocyanin-power of fresh picked blueberries is a convenient way to gain all of the health benefits. Two 500 mg capsules of a 36:1 blueberry concentrate is equivalent to ¼ cup of fresh blueberries. For general health, take two capsules daily.

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