Making fruit or vegetable based smoothies with a blender? Try throwing a handful of healthy blueberries into the blender mix. Blueberries are known to be high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and are naturally sweet. Blueberries are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are a good source of dietary fiber, and a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese, providing 24%, 36% and 25%, respectively, of the daily recommended amounts of these vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues and repairs and maintains bones and teeth. It also helps to heal wounds and form scar tissue. Vitamin K is best known for its role in helping blood clot and also with bone health. Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, and also aids in blood clotting. It also is necessary for normal brain and nerve functions. Lastly, as an antioxidant, blueberries mitigate the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are oxygenated molecules that can damage important cell components like DNA or a cell's membrane. Antioxidants are able to stop free radicals before cell damage occurs.
Recently, in addition to blueberries' known nutritional qualities, a study released by the US Department of Agriculture indicated that blueberries were potentially beneficial for fat and cholesterol reduction. In the study, two groups of hamsters were fed high fat foods. In addition, one group of hamsters were also fed blueberries and blueberry skins in addition to the high fat food rations. The scientists reported that the hamsters that were fed blueberry enhanced rations had 22 to 27 percent lower total cholesterol than the hamsters that were just fed high fat rations. Further, the levels of very low density lipoprotein (a form of bad cholesterol) were about 44 percent lower in the blueberry fed hamsters.
In hamsters, and in humans, the liver is responsible for making cholesterol and getting rid of excessive levels of cholesterol. The study's results indicated that some of the blueberry's compounds activated the hamster's liver genes to either produce less cholesterol or use more cholesterol. The net result was lower blood cholesterol levels in the hamsters that ate blueberries. The study needs further research to see if the positive effects found in the hamsters holds true for humans. But why wait? It is known that blueberries provide many excellent vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Cholesterol fighting properties would have been added bonus.
Source by Anne Rider