Yes, consuming a few blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and black currants every day can improve your overall health quality. In a world where fat diets and lifestyles of our most notable celebrities reign supreme, simple fruits such as berries are often overlooked, causing many to miss out on the benefits of these nutritional sources. Yet, with research pouring in from universities and research facilities, a wide variety of different berries seems to be the epicenter of a healthier world.
Current intakes of soda, artificially sweetened juices and alcohol cause heart disease to be the leading cause of death in many nations. Yet countries that consume and produce millions of tons of berries show a strong correlation between health benefits and consumption of these berries. These countries are primarily concentrated in southern Europe. Berries are an important component of the Mediterranean Diet, and as more research proves, it may be what causes the diet to be so healthy. This positive correlation between these two variables sparks a term that is often used by nutritionists to describe this phenomenon: The French Paradox. The idea here is that these countries are direct proof of the benefits berries can have on overall health. To start, berries are often known for aiding the heart, offering a cardioprotective shield.. This can be explained by the active polyphenols in these berries, such as resveratrol and epicatechin, which allow for reduced plaque and cause a facilitated heartbeat. Resveratrol, an active polyphenol, helps reduce the prevalence of free radicals in the human body, allowing for a healthier physical and mental state. It has often been associated with low levels of cardiovascular diseases, as well as lower risks of coronary heart disease. It has also been known to aid the heart, by increasing the levels of absorbed oxygen in the body. A study done by Johns Hopkins shows that the polyphenols in berries increase the amount of a specific enzyme, heme oxygenase, in the brain. The increased levels of this enzyme help shield nerve cells when a stroke occurs. John Hopkins researchers performed a medical test on a group of rats in which researchers found that that rats who had ingested specific polyphenols in berries – before suffering an ischemic stroke – suffered less than rats who didn’t.
Furthermore, berries are known for promoting vascular functionality by increasing levels of nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow while reducing blood pressure. Compounds in fermented berries, alongside the polyphenols, also prevent the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in blood vessels. Not only does this prevent early stages of stroke, cerebrovascular accidents, peripheral vascular disease, and heart attacks to occur, it can help maintain and prevent formation of plaque.. Additionally, polyphenols in berries cause lower blood viscosity, benefiting overall blood pressure as well.
Oxidative stress can cause decreased levels of nitric oxide, resulting in muscular tension and higher blood pressure. Polyphenols in berries increase the production of nitric oxide and decrease any formation of the superoxide detrimental to vascular health.
Berries can also improve overall tissue health as well as blood health. Polyphenolic compounds in berries lower oxidative stress, blood formation, and macrophage count, and decrease cholesterol accumulation, which allows blood to flow freely. Also, HDL is increased, allowing cholesterol to be excreted by the liver. Blood viscosity is decreased, improving overall blood pressure. Tissue health improves, preventing any tissue conditions due to poor blood conditions to form, such as ischemia and infarcts across major organs. Additionally, plasminogen and its receptors are increased, allowing improved blood supply, and improved oxygen flow throughout the body.
Endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHP) is also increased, allowing smooth muscle cells to relax, causing increased blood flow, as well as a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. This is how berries, and the compounds within, can improve blood and oxygen flow throughout the body.
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