(NaturalNews) The health benefits of blueberries are seemingly endless, and among these are improved eyesight, particularly at night. Multiple studies out of Europe and Israel confirm that eating blueberries regularly may help improve night vision, while another study out of Japan says blueberries can help reduce eyestrain and improve weak eyesight.
In a 1998 issue of The Blueberry Bulletin, released by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in New Jersey, a study on Israeli fighter pilots suggested that soldiers might gain tactical benefits by regularly consuming blueberries. Unique compounds in blueberries appear to enhance capillary elasticity and eye permeability, resulting in improved vision in the dark.
Blueberries inhibit cataract formation, protect against glaucoma
European studies looking at the bilberry, a close relative of the blueberry, have made similar assessments. The Life Extension Foundation (LEF) cites research showing that blueberries help improve overall eye health, as well as inhibit the formation of cataracts and protect against glaucoma. This, in addition to improving eye function at night.
“Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber pilots in World War II were reported to consume blueberries to help night vision,” says the Norwegian Blueberry Council. “…a recent study in Japan has scientifically documented the benefits of blueberries to help reduce eyestrain.”
“All over Japan, consumers buy small vials of blueberry juice to obtain the benefits … The Japan study showed that blueberry consumption reduced eyestrain and improved weak eyesight. Most believe that the substance, anthocyanin, in the blue pigment of the blueberry is responsible for the eyesight improvement.”
Blueberry anthocyanin benefits extend to the heart, brain, and digestive systems
The same blueberry antioxidants that are believed to benefit the eyes also benefit the other systems of the body. According to the late Dr. James Joseph, Ph.D., former lead scientist at the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center, blueberries are a superior brain food.
A study he conducted before his recent passing in 2010 found that daily consumption of blueberries helps slow memory decline and protect motor function, exerting a powerful anti-aging effect. Other epidemiological studies have found that blueberries can help protect against degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improve short-term memory.
“When it comes to brain protection, there is nothing quite like blueberries,” he told LEF back in 2006. “Call the blueberry the brain berry.”
Blueberries can also help protect against the formation of heart disease. Blueberry anthocyanins have been observed to improve the elasticity of blood vessels, increasing blood flow and protecting against clotting. Blueberries also help inhibit the buildup of “bad” cholesterol, prevent the buildup of arterial plaque, and decrease the “stickiness” of blood platelets.
Some of the biggest breakthroughs in blueberry science involve the fruit’s anti-aging properties, which are believed to be mostly due to their rich antioxidant content. Not only do blueberries help protect the brain against age-related decline, but they also help protect the central nervous system, increasing cell membrane fluidity while reducing levels of inflammatory compounds.
“Blueberry extracts have the advantage of delivering the fruit’s phytochemicals in a simple, standardized dose, while consuming blueberries as food offers the benefit of flavor,” adds LEF. “Regardless of how they are consumed, blueberries should be considered a mainstay of every healthy diet.”
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