Does blueberry supplementation promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy aging?
How to be healthy?
According to the recent review paper published by Kalt W et al.1, blueberry is a ‘super fruit’ with ample of health benefits and worth adding into our daily diets at moderate amounts.
Blueberries and other berries, such as blackberry, chokeberry, black raspberry, red raspberry, cranberry, mulberries, strawberries, black currant and acai are not just palatable fruits. Besides being low in calories, they are high in fiber, antioxidants (vitamin C and E), micronutrients (folic acid, alpha and beta carotene, lutein, calcium and selenium) and phenolic phytochemicals (anthocyanins and ellagitannins)2.
Anthocyanins give the red-blue color to berries and have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. Its potential health benefits include prevention of cardiovascular diseases, anti-hypertension, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-diabetes, anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-microbial, anti-ulcer, neuroprotection, hepatoprotection, immunoregulation, analgesia and improve visual health3.
Kalt W et al.1 reviewed around 200 prospective, clinical and animal studies done in the past decade on the role of anthocyanin-rich blueberries in cardioprotection, anti-diabetes, anti-obesity, anti-hypertensive, visual health and brain health.
The review of population studies on cardiovascular health showed that higher anthocyanin intake was associated with a 32% reduced risk of myocardial infarction during 18 years follow up period in 93,600 women4. A meta-analysis reported 11% reduction in the all-cause mortality (RR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.85, 0.94) and cardiovascular disease mortality (RR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.83, 0.95) with higher intake of anthocyanins, the results of which were comparable to another meta-analysis with risk of total cardiovascular disease (RR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.83, 0.96)5,6.
Higher anthocyanin consumption was also associated with a 10% reduced risk of incident hypertension during a 14-years study period in cohorts of over 87,000 participants; and least weight gain (-0.64 kg over 4 years) with blueberry intake as compared to other fruits in the 3 cohorts7,8.
A recent research article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted the cardioprotective effect of 1 cup (150 g) blueberries/day intake for 6 months on an at-risk population. The intervention showed improvements in endothelial function, systemic arterial stiffness and HDL cholesterol levels, which marked decreased risk of coronary heart disease, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduction in future cardiovascular events by 6.2-9.3%, 11.4-14.5%, and 13%, respectively9.
Blueberry consumption in 3 prospective studies was associated with 26% (RR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.66–0.83) reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among all the fruits analyzed10. A meta-analysis conducted on the risk reduction of type 2 diabetes mellitus resulted in 15% (RR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.80–0.91) and 18% (RR: 0.82, 95% CI: 0.76–0.89) reduced risk with dietary anthocyanin and berries, respectively. Similarly, higher anthocyanin intake was associated with reduced risk (RR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48–0.98) of type 2 diabetes in HAPIEE (Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors in Eastern Europe) study11,12. Furthermore, daily blueberry supplementation (45 g) for 6 weeks was consistent with improved sensitivity to insulin in obese and insulin-resistant individuals13.
In the Nurse’s Health Study, a prospective analysis of 16,000 women, increased intake of anthocyanin-rich berries (blueberries and strawberries) was also associated with a delay in cognitive decline in older adults14. Furthermore, several clinical studies have reported the benefit of blueberry supplementation on improving memory function and cognitive performance in adults and school-aged children15,16,17.
Although there is no published study on benefits of anthocyanin supplementation on macular degeneration, in a prospective cohort study of >35,000 women aged 45 years and above, blueberry supplementation was associated with decreased risk of incident total and significant age-related macular degeneration1.
Anthocyanin-rich blueberries are loaded with unending health benefits. Therefore, in a quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to promote healthy aging, blueberries (1/3rd cup, 50 mg anthocyanin) can be eaten daily3, which will further reduce the risk of common diseases that affect most populations worldwide.
- Kalt W, Cassidy A, Howard L, Krikorian R, Stull A, Tremblay F, Zamora-Ros R. Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins. Advances in Nutrition. 2019.
- Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutrition Reviews. 2010;68(3):168–177.
- Shaik A, Killari KN, Panda J. A review on anthocyanins: A promising role on phytochemistry and pharmacology. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. 2018;9(1)
- Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013;127(2):188-96.
- Grosso G, Micek A, Godos J, Pajak A, Sciacca S, Galvano F, Giovannucci EL. Dietary Flavonoid and Lignan Intake and Mortality in Prospective Cohort Studies: Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2017;185(12):1304–1316.
- Wang X, Ouyang YY, Liu J, Zhao G. Flavonoid intake and risk of CVD: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Journal of Nutrition. 2013;111(01):1–11.
- Cassidy A, O’Reilly ÉJ, Kay C, Sampson L, Franz M, Forman JP, Curhan G, Rimm EB. Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;93(2):338-47.
- Bertoia ML, Mukamal KJ, Cahill LE, Hou T, Ludwig DS, Mozaffarian D, Willett WC, Hu FB, Rimm EB. Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Medicine. 2015;12(9):e1001878.
- Curtis PJ, van der Velpen V, Berends L, Jennings A, Feelisch M, Umpleby AM, Evans M, Fernandez BO, Meiss MS, Minnion M, Potter J, Minihane AM, Kay CD, Rimm EB, Cassidy A. Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome-results from a 6-month, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2019;109(6):1535-1545.
- Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 2013;347:f5001
- Guo X, Yang B, Tan J, Jiang J, Li D. Associations of dietary intakes of anthocyanins and berry fruits with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systemic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;70(12):1360-1367.
- Grosso G, Stepaniak U, Micek A, Kozela M, Stefler D, Bobak M, Pajak A. Dietary polyphenol intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in the Polish arm of the Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors in Eastern Europe (HAPIEE) study. The British Journal of Nutrition. 2017;118(1):60-68.
- Stull AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD, Champagne CM, Cefalu WT. Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140(10):1764–1768.
- Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology. 2012;72(1):135–143.
- Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2010;58(7):3996-4000.
- Miller MG, Hamilton DA, Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B. Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. European Journal of Nutrition. 2018;57(3):1169-1180.
- Whyte AR, Schafer G, Williams CM. Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children. European Journal of Nutrition. 2016;55(6):2151-62.