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Superfood blueberries – a powerhouse of nature in blue

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Superfood blueberries: before you think or say, 'Oh, even Lubera now has something to do with this superfood blueberry hype', we allow ourselves to write a short preliminary note about the much overused topic of superfood: apparently, humanity is just witnessing the mysterious transformation of a previously seemingly harmless food item to a genus of especially high quality or better, expensive edibles that are particularly profitable for the food industry. Gladly, these are also hailed as a miracle product of nature. Why is that? Is it because we have to compensate for our unhealthy lifestyle? It is because we are already used to pills and powders, and therefore like to consume nature?
Anyway, we have nothing against the hype about superfoods and certainly nothing against the superfood blueberries, if we learn more about our plants thanks to the approach to the contents and health effects and if in the end more blueberries are planted in the garden (gladly also from the Lubera shop).

The definition of superfoods

Superfood or superfoods are food items that contain an extremely high proportion of important nutrients (vitamins, nutrients, trace elements) and can only have a positive effect on our health. At Wikipedia, the whole thing is already seen a bit more down-to-earth: 'superfood is a marketing term for food with supposed health benefits as a result of some part of its nutritional analysis or its overall nutrient density.' And: 'Commonly cited as a superfood, blueberries provide moderate levels of nutrients compared to vegetables and other fruits.' Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins. These are intended to slow down the growth of cancerous cells in the colon and even kill them. Furthermore, blueberries contain other antioxidants that prevent age-related memory loss in animal experiments and can partially reverse this.

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Blueberry Blue Dessert® - the late, aromatic blueberry

The contents of superfood blueberries

At Lubera we prefer to rely on tangible facts and they start with the contents of the dark blue, vitamin-rich blueberries.

From the results of laboratory analysis, it can be seen that our superfood blueberries (the fresh fruits that wander from the bush to the mouth) naturally contain much higher amounts of healthy nutrients and vitamins than processed berries. But now to the known and less known healing powers of the blueberries, their active ingredients and the resulting applications, whereby we want to clearly understand the emphasis on “possibilities” because if and how you want to embrace them, is YOUR decision alone.

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Blueberry Blueroma® - the superfood blueberry with the best flavour

The history of superfood blueberries in fast motion

Historically, blueberries are among the earliest foods available to humans in very early civilizations with hunters/gatherers, well before the development of farming. Centuries later, the Native Americans of North America paid tribute to the small berries as a gift of the Great Spirit, which he gave to his children to save them from starvation. The Indians not only enjoyed the blueberries fresh, they were also preserved or dried using techniques that were already used at that time. Since the invention of canning in the mid-nineteenth century in the United States, blueberries have been preserved more efficiently and shipped over longer distances; with the later beginning of the expansion of the American railway network, these possibilities widened considerably again.

Maine, as the easternmost state, was one of the largest exporters of blueberries well into the 20th century. Most of them were collected wild at least until after World War II, i.e. they did not come from plantations. We talked about the unstoppable rise of blueberries to a global product in the first part of this article and also pondered the possible reasons. After all, the temporal parallelism between the rise of blueberries and the nutritional debate is not uninteresting: it is the same 20th century, in which topics and terms such as carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, proteins and fats began to play a role for the first time in the nutritional debate. Quite certainly, this development is related to the fact that in the 20th century, and especially in half of the diet for very broad sections of the population, at least in the United States and Western Europe, it is no longer primarily a question of survival, but rather it is a matter of health (apart from the war zones in the First and Second World Wars).

Nutrient content of superfood blueberries

Today, various studies exist on what nutrient levels the superfood blueberries have. They must be different because the amount of substances depends on the variety, the degree of ripeness, the location of the growing area and a number of other important factors. At this point, it should not be kept secret that, as with other fruits, water is the main constituent of the blueberries.

The nutritional overview of blueberries according to Dr. Hanspeter Hemgesberg is as follows (based on 100 grams):

  • 0.6 grams of protein
    0.6 grams of fat
    18.2 grams of carbohydrates
    4.9 grams of fibre
    0.3 grams of minerals
    Nutritional value: 37 kcal or 157 kJ equals 0.6 carbohydrates

With regard to vitamins and minerals, one cup of blueberries can already cover a good percentage of the daily requirement:

  • Vitamin C: 32 per cent
  • Vitamin A: 6 per cent
  • Vitamin E: 4 per cent
  • Folic acid: 4 per cent
  • Iron: 2 per cent
  • Zinc: 2 per cent

The comparison of the ingredients between European wild blueberries and blueberries (100 grams) is rather undecided: the smaller blueberries with the relatively higher proportion of fruit skin and the seeds provide more fibre; the large and sweet blueberries definitely have more sugar...

Health promoting effect of the secondary ingredients

These valuable natural plant substances are found in our blueberries mainly in their outer leaves and in the skin. And especially in recent years, there have been extensive scientific studies examining the effects of berries on conditions such as diabetes, circulatory and vascular diseases, age-related problems with brain function, urinary tract infections and cancer. Nearly all the test series yielded positive effects of the fruits on the human organism, which could be attributed to the secondary ingredients of the superfood blueberries.

Professor Mary Ann Lila, Food Science Director at N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, stated this at the Berry Health Benefits Symposium in 2005: “We all know that berries are expert chemists:  They naturally produce complex, biologically-active compounds that are advantageous for human health, using unique metabolic strategies that are unparalleled by any synthetic drugs on the market.  But of course, berries are not producing these novel phytochemical mixtures out of some sense of altruism towards man! The bioactive chemicals accumulated in berry fruits – the same compounds which can intervene in cardiovascular disease and cancer, prevent infections, delay age-related declines, and dramatically enhance human metabolic performance – all by definition fall into a class known as secondary metabolites.”

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Moreberry® Pinkberry® - blue AND pink blueberries in one pot

Good and evil or antioxidants vs. free radicals

As unbelievably interesting, as exciting as this topic is, unfortunately we cannot go into detail here for reasons of space. We strongly recommend that you read this article, which explains the relationships from a medical point of view. Here only as an extract: free radicals are defined as the natural by-products of chemical processes that react and oxidise very easily and have a significant share of the aging process (of the cells). Ultimately, they are also involved in various human and all-too-human calamities:

  • Mental as well as physical stress
  • Malnutrition
  • Aging
  • Inflammation
  • Elevated blood sugar/cholesterol levels (hyperglycaemia or hypercholesterolemia)

There are of course external health-damaging causes such as the following:

  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Air pollution (such as ozone, electro smog, nitrogen oxides)
  • Environmental toxins, toxic heavy metals, UV rays
  • Medication (antibiotics or anti-cancer drugs)

The antioxidant potential of different fruits

Antioxidants, such as those found in our superfood blueberries, naturally absorb free radicals and render them harmless (i.e. they are no longer reactive) however in very different ORAC values. By the way, ORAC is short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. For the sake of completeness, we note that the blueberries do not lead this ranking in all studies, as it is also quite controversial how the total antioxidant potential can be measured...but blueberries and blackberries are always in the lead group.

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Blueberry Blautropf® - the blueberry with the teardrop-shaped berries

Positive effects of blueberries on clinical pictures

Empirical knowledge – or more simply, simple life experience – has shown over the centuries and in many cases that proper nutrition can help prevent serious illnesses, mitigate or even heal the course of the disease altogether. Recent and international research has not only confirmed this knowledge, but also opened up completely new medical applications. The fact that certain foods have a positive effect on human health, however, is considered only serious and proven if these effects were repeatedly reproducible in scientific experiments. In the following, a small overview will be given about such selected test series with our superfood blueberry. This involves both in vitro (tests in the test tube) and in vivo studies, i.e. tests on living organisms (animal and/or human). And yes, we know that there are legitimate concerns and reservations about animal testing. Nevertheless, we believe that these studies should not go unmentioned, especially since it can be assumed that medical, pharmaceutical or chemical research in the foreseeable future will not waive such attempts and probably cannot do without them.

1. Superfood blueberries for urinary tract infections

In this case, scientific research has repeatedly confirmed that berries can have a healing effect on this disease. In this specific case, they prevent the adhesion of bacteria (coli bacteria) to the mucous membranes, which otherwise penetrate further via the ureter. Blueberry juice is a proven remedy for urinary tract infections, with the assumption until two decades ago that the fruit acid of the berries in the urine would prevent the bacteria from multiplying. In fact, however, it is the proanthocyanidins that strike when bacteria attaches to the cells of the urinary tract and in the bladder. The effect of 240 ml of juice stays in the urine for about ten hours. Here of course the cranberries, the American cranberries, should also be mentioned, which seem to have a similar effect.

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Cranberry Red Balloon - a very healthy Vaccinium macrocarpon

2. Blueberries help to reduce vision problems

Key findings from the placebo-controlled trials conducted in the United States, France and Italy were the following:

  • Blueberries can promote the light/dark adaptation in the human eye
  • Blueberries reduce eye fatigue and fatigue
  • The eyesight in bad light conditions or at night can be significantly improved thanks to the superfood blueberry

Background: night pilots of the Royal Air Force had repeatedly reported that after eating blueberry or blueberry jam they had the impression that they would be able to see better at night and perceive less fatigue in their eyes. In the 60s of the last century, several international experiments took place, each with two groups of participants. One team was given a placebo during the test series, and the other participants received blueberry preparations in tablet form, the dosage of which was changed several times a day.

The result: the participants, who were able to see well before, did not register changes, while those with moderate or even poor eyesight reported a significant improvement. In follow-up studies conducted a few years ago in the UK and Israel, the pilots also experienced very little visual fatigue after four hours of night-time flying, after they were given juice from cultivated blueberries over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, our superfood blueberries showed significantly less or no effect in younger and healthy test persons, while in older participants, eyesight improved noticeably.

3. Blueberries for near-sightedness and cataracts

The basic message of this series of experiments, which was carried out mainly in Italy in the late nineties, was similarly hopeful, except that there was no consistent conclusion on the optimal dosage of the administered blueberry preparation. In this study, comparisons were made between the commonly administered drug Difrarel E and special blueberry extracts at a daily dose of between 150 and 620 milligrams. Although the test series were not completely scientifically confirmed, they nevertheless proved that the anthocyanins contained in the blueberries can have a positive effect on the prevention or degeneration of the human visual centre.

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Blueberry Rubel - the cultivated blueberry with the most anthocyanins

4. Cultivated blueberries and their use in diabetes

Since currently in Germany there are more than five million people who suffer from Diabetes mellitus, it would of course be more than desirable if only a few servings of superfood blueberries were needed in order to lower the blood sugar level of the patients to a normal level. After all, it is not just tiredness, fatigue and physical weakness that have troubled the sufferer, but, more importantly, the dramatic consequential damages and illnesses that patients suffer as the disease progresses:

  • Damage to the nerves, small and large blood vessels
  • Diseases of the retina, blurred vision resulting in possible blindness
  • Kidney failure and liver disease due to obesity
  • Diabetic foot with the potential for imminent partial or total amputation

How can superfood blueberries help with treat diabetes? Teas and extracts, which are relatively easy to obtain from fruits and leaves, have a very long tradition for diabetes patients within folk medicine. The experiments carried out in Italy during the 1990s have shown that blueberry leaves have a triglyceride as well as blood sugar lowering effect. The Myrtillin B contained in the leaves, together with the content of chromium causes an approximately ten per cent reduction in blood sugar. This is of course not enough as a main therapeutic, but would at best be an adjunct to diabetes patients. Much more interesting are the reports of commercially active blueberry pickers on the plantations, who were suffering from diabetes and found in their work that they would inject no or only small amounts of insulin after consuming larger amounts of different blueberry varieties. Regrettable only that there are no scientific studies on this obvious phenomenon to this day, even though the dangerous side effects of insulin preparations are well known. Nevertheless, it can be stated with certainty that regular consumption of blueberries protects and strengthens the sensitive blood vessels of diabetics after a relatively short period of use.

5. Healthy intestines thanks to blueberries

Up to 70 per cent of the human immune tissue is in the intestine, with which it, as in this case, the liver also plays a very important role in the metabolic process in our body. It’s very uncomfortable – and we all know that – when it comes to never-ending diarrhoea or even painful and often protracted inflammation within the intestinal flora. And again it is our superfood blueberry, which can quickly provide noticeable relief in such unpleasant cases. Anyone who is already a little longer in this world knows for sure that the grandparents always made a tea from dried blueberries in case of diarrhoea, which would take on its constipating effect in no time. It heals very gently with his contained tannins, so that it is even tolerated by toddlers. The tannin, with its antioxidant properties, is said by leading scientists to not only have anti-inflammatory characteristics but also anti-cancer properties that can significantly reduce the risk of serious bowel disease. And regularly and purely prophylactically preparing such a tea really doesn’t take long...

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Blueberry Huckleberry Pacific Spear - the American forest blueberry with the staining fruits

Tea for diarrhoea using superfood blueberries

Place three heaping tablespoons of blueberries (or half the amount when dried) in half a litre of water and let cook for about ten minutes. After the subsequent straining, drink a cup of it warm and unsweetened several times a day.

A little more time and a few more ingredients are needed for this tea:

Constipation tea for quick help

  • 15 grams of dried blueberries
  • 15 grams of blueberry leaves
  • 10 grams of oak bark
  • 25 grams of chamomile flowers
  • 10 grams of tormentil root (bloodroot)

Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and place three heaping teaspoons into a normal sized cup. Add 0.25 litre of boiling water and let the tea seep for several hours. After straining, drink the tea lukewarm. Throughout the day, up to three cups can be consumed.

Other diseases where blueberries can help

...or let's rather say, where a positive effect of blueberries is most likely. This is about complaints in which the medical effect of the now somewhat more familiar superfood blueberries is not known from tradition and the suitability has not been empirically verified. Especially promising are the possibilities to make use of the beneficial effects of blueberries on a measurable reduction of degenerative aging processes of the human brain. There are already international clinical studies with test persons with which these effects can also be proved, but unfortunately not (yet) in the required number. Science rightly claims that scientific results must be reproducible, only then are they considered validated. Nevertheless, the likelihood that blueberries may protect us from harmful civilization diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia or delay their entry is gratifyingly high even in the present time.

An American long-term study, which began in 2010, is particularly noteworthy. Nine elderly people, all around the age of 70 and already affected by memory impairment early on, receive two to three cups of blueberry juice daily. Just as many people of the same age formed the placebo group in this study and received another, similar tasting and somewhat similar-looking drink. After only three months, the “ailing” individuals had demonstrable improvements in their ability to learn and remember certain predefined words. At the same time, glucose levels and the propensity towards depressive behaviour decreased in this group.

With similar efforts to make the ever-popular superfood blueberry a super medicine one day, there are also ideas related to cancer research, as a fitness and slimming agent or more generally as a berry that is healthy for you, without side effects and yet the superfood blueberry also has a positive influence on post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression and other psychosomatic illnesses of our modern times. Let’s stay excited about this!

 

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