Blueberries are a superfruit known for antioxidant properties that combat heart disease and cancer.  New research suggests that the powerful antioxidant fruit may prevent the effects dementia.  Blueberries contain the flavonoid, anthocyanin which contribute to the helpful antioxidant effects, which studies have found slow down progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Flavonoids are a group of plants thought to provide health benefits through cell communication and antioxidant effects. They are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries, radishes and blackcurrant.  According to the literature, flavonoids can be divided into six major subtypes:  chalcones, flavones, isoflavonoids, flavanones, anthoxanthins and anthocyanins.   The anthoxanthins give rise to the yellow color of plants and anthocyanins are responsible for the red and purple-red colors found in fruits and vegetables.

Health Benefits

It is known that flavonoids are important antioxidants.  Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay types of cell damage caused by free radicals, which are highly reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm and kill cells.  Antioxidants interact with and neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. Antioxidants are also known as “free radical scavengers.”

Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements and promote several health effects. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants and also provide the following health benefits:

  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-allergic

Quercetin, is a known flavonoid that may help to alleviate eczema, sinusitis, asthma, and hay fever.  Studies have shown that flavonoid consumption may also reduce heart disease by inhibiting the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL – harmful cholesterol) and therefore reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).

Flavonoids are also abundant in red wine and theorized that the incidence of heart disease may be lower among the French (who may have high red wine intake), despite a large consumption of foods rich in cholesterol, such as cheese (known as the French paradox). Many studies support that one to two glasses of wine a day can help protect against heart disease.  Moderation of red wine consumption is advised and intake recommendations include that men not drink more than two glasses per day and women limit intake to no more than one glass per day.

Varieties of teas are also rich in flavonoids and thought to lower blood levels of triglycerides (fats in blood) and cholesterol (waxy, fat-like substance).  Soy flavonoids or isoflavones may also lower cholesterol, protect against osteoporosis and reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Recommended daily intake of dietary flavonoids is dependent upon individuals antioxidant activity and ranges between 50 and 500 mg per day.

Food Sources

Most fruits, vegetables and herbs contain flavonoids.  The more colorful the food, the richer it will be in flavonoids.  Oranges are colorful and contain flavonoids, but they are mainly found in the white and pulp interior of the skin.  Flavonoids may be found in other food sources such as dry beans, grains, red wine and green and black teas.  The best way to ensure a healthy intake of flavonoids is to consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.  Experts advise eating five servings of vegetables and four of fruit.

Flavonoids are also available in supplements.  However,  experts have not confirmed an ideal flavonoid intake and excessive intake may be harmful.  Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering “conventional” foods and drug products, and “does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.”

Read article here: Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s


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