PhotoLots of foods are good for you but many of them are somewhat offputting to the uninitiated, like kale, collard and cabbage. Ah, but now we have wild blueberries, which are tasty in pies, yogurt, muffins or just by themselves -- and, it turns out, they're quite healthful besides. 

That's because wild blueberries are a rich source of phytochemicals called polyphenols, which have been reported by a growing number of studies to exert a wide array of protective health benefits. The latest study, this one by researchers at the University of Maine, adds to this growing body of evidence.

This new research, published today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, shows that regular long-term wild blueberry diets may help improve or prevent maladies associated with the metabolic syndrome, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

"The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of risk factors characterized by obesity, hypertension, inflammation, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction," explains Dr. Klimis-Zacas, a Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Maine and a co-author of the study. "MetS affects an estimated 37% of adults in the US ." Many substances found in food have the potential to prevent MetS, thus reducing the need for medication and medical intervention.

According to the study, wild blueberry consumption (2 cups per day, human equivalent) for 8 weeks was shown to regulate and improve the balance between relaxing and constricting factors in the vascular wall, improving blood flow and blood pressure regulation of obese Zucker rats with metabolic syndrome.

"Our recent findings reported elsewhere, documented that wild blueberries reduce chronic inflammation and improve the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with the MetS." Thus, this new study shows even greater potential such that "by normalizing oxidative, inflammatory response and endothelial function, regular long-term wild blueberry diets may also help improve pathologies associated with the MetS."


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