What Are the Health Benefits of the Anthocyanins in Blueberries?

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You have probably often been told to eat your fruit and vegetables because they are good for you. Sure, they are low in calories and rich in nutrients, which are worthy qualities that are very beneficial to your health. Blueberries, in particular, have gotten much attention because of their positive impact on health. The secret weapon in blueberries and similar fruit is the amount of anthocyanins they contain.

Anthocyanins Defined

The term anthocyanin refers to a type of flavonoid and pigment that imbues the blueberry with a dark blue and purplish color. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that are mostly found in teas, wines, fruit, vegetables cocoa and olive oil. Eggplants, plums and black currants are examples of other fruits and vegetables that have a high anthocyanin content.

Cognitive Function

A study published in the "Journal of Neuroscience" in 1999 that was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, investigated the effects of anthocyanins on rats. The study found that the rats that received anthocyanins were less likely to suffer from age-related loss of memory and motor function. The loss of brain fat is a marker of brain aging that was also reversed when blueberry extract was administered to the rats, notes the "Journal of Neuroscience."

Reduced Inflammation

One of the most important activities if anthocyanin is its high antioxidant effect. By definition, antioxidants prevent important cells in your body from being oxidized by not only removing the products of oxidation called free radicals, but also by offering themselves up for oxidation instead. When you ingest anthocyanin, it is secreted in the thin layer of cells that line your entire cardiovascular system and lends its antioxidant power to those cells. According to a study conducted by researcher Mary Ann Lila, which was published in 2004 in the "Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology," anthocyanins can protect your cardiovascular system from oxidative stress and also prevent the degradation of fat into dangerous compounds in your blood.