Friday, August 26, 2011

Blueberries: protector of your vision

Did You Know...

... that you can improve your vision, protect your eyes, and even reverse vision loss with blueberries?
Blueberries (and their European cousins, bilberries) are full of nutrients that improve your health on a cellular level. Many of the amazing health benefits of this superfood are well known -- but their incredible effects on visual acuity and the prevention of macular degeneration are less often touted.
Royal Blue (Berries)?
Some claim that during WWII, pilots in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) regularly consumed bilberry preserves because they enhanced their night vision. According to the stories, the bilberries improved the pilots' sight so much that they were able to complete their missions with significantly greater accuracy.
These reports about the WWII pilots spurred researchers in Europe to study the potential impact of blueberries on night vision. Results showed that the nutrients in blueberries do have a substantive effect on eyesight in several ways:
a.. Improved night-time visual acuity
a.. More rapid reaction to darkness
a.. Faster adjustment following exposure to glare
The Bluer the Better
for Protecting Your Eyes
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the primary cause of blindness and vision loss in individuals over the age of 65. Leslie Degner, RN, runs a website devoted to raising awareness about macular degeneration causes, symptoms, and treatments.
According to Degner's site, free radicals can be linked to almost every cause of macular degeneration. Research into antioxidants and their ability to combat free radicals is now essential in the efforts to find the best means of preventing macular degeneration.
The primary source of blueberries' amazing nutritional properties are their high levels of antioxidants. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test -- one of the most accurate tools available for measuring the antioxidant level of fresh fruits and vegetables -- shows that a serving of blueberries introduces more antioxidants into the body than most other fruits and vegetables.
Data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, MA, ranks blueberries high up on the list of fruits with the most potent antioxidant activity. A study done by USDA scientists Dr. Ronald Prior and Dr. Guohua Cao showed blueberries to have the strongest antioxidant capacity of 40 different fruits and vegetables.
According to Dr. Prior, the antioxidant characteristics in blueberries are likely due toanthocyanins. The berries' blue colour is the result of their ample concentrations of anthocyanins -- so, the bluer the berry, the better for you! A bit of advice from Dr. Prior: "The wild variety contain one of the highest anthocyanin levels of berries commercially available in North America."
The Vision Fruit
As far as your eyes are concerned, anthocyanin-rich blueberries will not only improve your vision, but also protect it. Antioxidants are necessary in your body's fight to reduce oxidation. Oxidation ages your cells -- resulting not only in skin wrinkles but also degenerative diseases like macular degeneration.
Antioxidants help prevent macular degeneration by supplying free radicals with the missing electron needed to balance the cell. This neutralizes them and renders them unable to damage the collagen matrix of healthy cells and tissues, such as the macula and macular pigment in your eyes. This not only prevents macular degeneration, but also other common causes of vision impairment, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
The concentration of anthocyanin in blueberries is so strong that it can sometimes reverse vision loss.
No wonder the Japanese are so awed by the benefits blueberries have on eyesight, they've nicknamed the berries "the vision fruit."
Serving Suggestions
Perhaps because of their widely acclaimed medical benefits, blueberries are one of the more expensive fruits. One way to incorporate blueberries into your diet without breaking the bank would be to buy the berries on sale and then freeze them. This will save you money, and extend the short shelf life of the berries.


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