Worldwide, 18% of the adult population is obese. More than one in three adults in Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States are obese. This blog examines the evidence that high regular consumption of this superfood can help obesity and stave off its complications.
Curb Fat Cell Production
When a fat cell (adipocytes) becomes 80% full to its capacity, it signals the production for new fat cells. Adipogenesis is the process in which the precursors to fat cells become actual adipocytes. Fat cells do not disappear, but they can shrink! Early laboratory studies indicate that regular consumption of blueberries (including the blueberry pill) inhibits the creation of new fat cells from their precursors cells!1,2
Help Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by at least three of the following conditions: elevated blood glucose, increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, high blood pressure, and inflammation. This syndrome is often the precursor to type 2 diabetes and a host of heart and blood vessel diseases. Of course, obesity by itself is a serious risk factor for metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes.
In one experiment researchers studied the effect of blueberries (freeze dried blueberries crushed into a powder) that were mixed into the rat diet, as part of either a low- or high-fat diet. They performed many comparisons between the rats consuming the test diets and the control rats receiving no blueberry powder. All the rats had genes which increased their risk for being severely overweight. Rats that received the blueberry-enriched powder, measured as 2 percent of their diet, had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity. While regular blueberry intake reduced these risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in these rats, the health benefits were even better when combined with a low-fat diet.3
Improve Glucose Levels
Eating blueberries regularly improved glucose tolerance without altering body composition in obese postmenopausal mice.4 A double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical study showed blueberry consumptions improves insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women.5
Help Blood Pressure
Obesity generates inflammation. Inflammation fuels many of the complications of obesity. Blueberry consumption helps to reduce inflammation in obesity.6 See Tasty Foods Help to Lower Risk for Diabetes!
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Unfortunately, obesity and diabetes increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Daily consumption of 200 grams (2 cups) of blueberries for thirty days can reduce blood pressure the by five points on the average. This can translate into a 20% reduce cardiovascular problems over the years. How do blueberries help? In hypertension, the ability of the innermost layer of the arteries to generate vasodilating substances is reduced. The blood vessels are more likely to constrict with resulting rise of blood pressure. Blueberries improve the ability of the blood vessels to generate molecules and compounds that cause the blood vessels to dilate.7 Berries as Disease Fighters
Protect the Brain
Obesity in mid-life is a predictor of mild cognitive impairment in old age. Like obesity, diabetes shrinks key areas of the brain and encourages eventual cognitive decline. Obesity is linked to not only an increased risk of the development of mild cognitive impairment, but more than doubles the risk for late-life dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.8
Blueberries are loaded with healthful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds can improve memory and cognitive function in some older adults. Animal studies found that aging rats, who consumed either blueberry or strawberry enriched diets for four months, exhibited enhanced motor performance and improved cognition and memory.9
For older adults who had mild cognitive impairment, researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks. The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts. The team also conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which showed increased brain activity in those who ingested the blueberry powder.10
Bolster the Immunity
Obesity depresses the immune system. Blueberry ingestion for 6 weeks increases natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells destroy viruses and cancer cells.11
Obesity is a significant and independent risk factor for erectile dysfunction(ED). Obesity leads to erectile dysfunction to a considerably greater extent than aging.12 Eating foods rich in certain flavonoids is associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction in men with the greatest benefit in those under 70.
Of all the flavonoid studies, anthocyanins from blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, and blackcurrants have been linked to reduced risk of ED. Flavanones and flavones found in citrus fruits offer the greatest benefits in preventing this condition. Exercise can improve erectile function, but this research shows that eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for erectile function as briskly walking up to five hours a week. Men who weekly consumed a few servings of these flavonoid-rich foods were 10 per cent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction.13
Freezing blueberries improves their antioxidant content. For health, chewing berries is generally better than drinking a berry beverage. Chewing food improves metabolism and decreases hunger hormones. 14
Remember, though, no superfood or supplement can totally undo all the harm caused by a sedentary lifestyle, inadequate sleep, and any other violation of natural laws. Nonetheless, these delicious berries pack a mighty punch to disease!
Key Words: health benefits berries, berries and obesity, berries and heart health, berries and diabetes, berries and brain, health benefits of blueberries, blueberries and diabetes, blueberries and obesity
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- Moghe SS. Effect of blueberry polyphenols on 3T3-F442A preadipocyte differentiation. J Med Food. 2012 May;15(5):448-52. 8.
- Song Y. Blueberry peel extracts inhibit adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells and reduce high-fat diet-induced obesity. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 25;8(7):e69925.
- University of Michigan. “Blueberries May Help Reduce Belly Fat, Diabetes Risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090419170112.htm
- Elks CM. Blueberries improve glucose tolerance without altering body composition in obese postmenopausal mice. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Mar;23(3):573-80.
- Stull AJ. Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. J Nutr. 2010 Oct; 140(10):1764-8.
- DeFuria J. Dietary blueberry attenuates whole-body insulin resistance in high fat-fed mice by reducing adipocyte death and its inflammatory sequelae. J Nutr. 2009 Aug; 139(8):1510-6.
- Sandoiu A. Blueberries may lower cardiovascular disease by 20%. www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324526.php Feb. 23, 2019.
- Nguyen J. C. Obesity and cognitive decline: role of inflammation and vascular changes. 19 November 2014. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4237034/pdf/fnins-08-00375.pdf/
- Shukitt-Hale B. The beneficial effects of berries on cognition, motor behaviour and neuronal function in ageing. Br J Nutr. 2015 Nov 28; 114(10):1542-9.
- American Chemical Society. “Blueberries, the well-known ‘super fruit,’ could help fight Alzheimer’s.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160314084821.htm
- McAnulty LS. Six weeks daily ingestion of whole blueberry powder increases natural killer cell counts and reduces arterial stiffness in sedentary males and females. Nutr Res. 2014 Jul; 34(7):577-84.
- Skrypnik D. [Obesity–significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men]. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2014 Feb; 36(212):137-41.
- Cassidy A. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.122010.
- Hall E. and Valle P. Chew on This. wildwoodhealth.com/blog/chew-on-this/. Jan. 17. 2019.