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Blueberries and Your Health


Prevention Magazine Goes Wild Over Blueberries And Their Anti-Aging Potential

BAR HARBOR, Maine (June 25, 1999) - - In the June 1999 issue of Prevention magazine, blueberries take center stage as the “Miracle Berry.” Blueberries have risen to stardom because of recent research findings pointing to possible health and nutrition benefits. Ranked #1 among fruits and vegetables in antioxidant power, researchers are taking a closer look at blueberries for their remarkable anti-aging potential.

“If you add one food to your diet this year, make it blueberries,” says Prevention’s Nutrition Editor Holly McCord, RD, author of “The Miracle Berry.” According to McCord, blueberries are the “....single most ferocious food in the supermarket at halting the forces that age you.”

Prevention’s focus on blueberries is well timed, according to John Sauve’, Executive Director of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA). “Consumer interest in eating foods that help prevent disease is at an all-time high. Blueberries are now in the spotlight as a ‘good for you food,” says Sauve’. “For great taste and antioxidant power, there’s no better choice than a daily dose of Nature’s best blueberries: the Wild Ones.”

Anti-Aging Properties Explored

Dr. James Joseph, Chief of the neuroscience laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutirition Center on Aging at Tufts University, I working with blueberries to examine their effect on memory and motor skills. Preliminary research suggests that blueberries protect against the effects of age-related deterioration of the brain, such as short-term memory loss.

“The blueberry has emerged as a very powerful food in the aging battle,” said Joseph. “Given the possibility that blueberries may reverse short-term memory loss and forestall other effects of aging, their potential may be very great.”

In the Tufts trials, Dr. Joseph and his colleagues fed aged rats a blueberry extract for two months and saw improved navigation skills in mazes as well as improvements in balance, coordination and running speed. According to Joseph, as rats age, they typically forget how to maneuver through mazes that they previously had learned to navigate. Ongoing research will focus on identifying the specific compounds responsible for blueberries’ beneficial effects.

Nature’s Antioxidant Powerhouse

Studies conducted by Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University, ranked blueberries number one in antioxidant activity when compared with 40 other community available fruits and vegetables. (Source: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 44:701-705; 3426-3343, 1996; 46-2686-2693, 1998)

Antioxidants are natural substances found in fruits and vegetables which neutralize free radicals - - unstable oxygen molecules associated with cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging.

Scientists attribute these benefits to anthocyanins and other natural compounds (phytochemicals) found in Wild Blueberries. Anthocyanins (from two Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue”) are responsible for the intense blue and red pigments of fruits like Wild Blueberries.

“One-half cup of blueberries delivers as much antioxidant power as 5 servings of other fruits and vegetables - - such as peas, carrots, apples, squash and broccoli,” says Dr. Prior. “While variety is still the key to a healthy diet, I’m eating blueberries regularly.”

5-A-Day to Fight Disease

To help consumers prevent cancer and other diseases associated with aging, the national 5-A-Day program recommends eating a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. According to WBANA’s Executive Director, John Sauve’, one half cup of Wild Blueberries equals one serving under the 5-A-Day guidelines. “Eating Wild Blueberries is an easy and tasty way to meet the 5-A-Day goal for healthy eating,” says Sauve’. “For great taste and convenience, we encourage consumers to choose Wild Blueberries to get their Daily Dose of Blue.”

Nature’s Tastiest Frozen Berry

Wild Blueberries, which are commercially harvested only in Maine and eastern Canada, are available year-round. “With excitement building around the blueberry health story, consumer interest in Wild Blueberries is growing as well,” says Sauve’. “As a result, the industry is working hard to expand its distribution of frozen berries to supermarkets nationwide.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, frozen fruits equal, or, in some cases, surpass fresh fruit from a health and nutrition standpoint. “We anticipate the frozen food business to represent a growth opportunity for the industry,” says Sauve’. “We’ll continue to educate consumers to the disease-fighting potential of blueberries, and encouraging them to head to the freezer case for their Daily Dose of Blue.”

WBANA is an international trade association of growers and processors of Wild Blueberries from Maine and Canada.

SOURCE: Wild Blueberry Association of North America
CONTACTS: John Sauve’, Wild Blueberry Association of North America, (207)288-2655 or Susan Till, SWARDLICK MARKETING GROUP, (207)775-4100.