If I told you that consuming a few blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, and grapes a day can improve your overall health quality by a significant amount, it would be hard to believe. In a world where fat diets and lifestyles of our most notable celebrities reign supreme, simple fruits like berries are often overlooked by the general public, causing them to miss out on the benefits of these nutritional sources. Yet, with research pouring in from notable universities and reputed research facilities, a wide variety of different berries seems to be the epicenter of a healthier world. Current intakes of soda, juices, and alcohol by the average American, cause heart disease to be the leading cause of death in the USA.
Yet, thousands of miles away, 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 Europe and are referred to as the Mediterranean Countries. 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 2 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, as they can easily bolster the benefits of these berries itself. To start, berries are often known for aiding the heart, offering a cardioprotective shield to it, when ingested. This can be referenced to 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 states. It has often been associated with low levels of cardiovascular diseases, as well as lower risks of coronary heart disease as well. It has also been known to aid the heart, by increasing the levels of absorbed oxygen in the body. A study done by John Hopkins shows that the polyphenols in berries and wine derived from berries increase the amount of a specific enzyme, named heme oxygenase which is present 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, where researchers were able to see that the rat who had ingested the specific polyphenols in berries before suffering an ischemic stroke, suffered less than the mice who didn’t. Through populations of people, as well as reputed research experiments, we can see the benefits of ingesting these berries.
Furthermore, these berries are known for promoting vascular functionality by increasing levels of nitric oxide, which help relax blood vessels, and improve blood flow, while reducing blood pressure. Compounds in the fermented berries, alongside the polyphenols, also show its ability to prevent the oxidation of low – density – lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in blood vessels. Not only does this prevent any early stages of stroke, cerebrovascular accidents, peripheral vascular disease, and heart attacks to occur, it can help maintain and prevent any formation of plaque at an early age. Additionally, the polyphenols in these berries, allow for lower blood viscosity, benefiting overall blood pressure as well.
Oxidative stress can also impact blood vessels in a grand manner, which can cause decreased levels of Nitric Oxide, and in fact, create a substance known as superoxide which can play the opposite role of Nitric Oxide, which can help relax muscles. This cardiovascular risk factor renders one’s vessels to create superoxide, which in turn causes an endothelial NO synthase irregularity. This dysfunctionality oxidizes tissue, and inactivates nitric oxide, thus increasing blood pressure. The polyphenols in these berries increase the production of nitric oxide and decrease any formation of superoxide, which is detrimental to vascular health. This is how the substances in berries, can help improve overall health and quality of vascular tissue.
Furthermore, the substances in berries can also improve overall tissue health, as well as blood health. The benefits of berries on human health are ever – so expanding. Berries impact both thrombotic and atherogenic factors, which can improve the overall quality of blood and tissue. To start, the polyphenolic compounds in berries lower oxidative stress, blood formation, but in addition to that, it increases macrophage count, which will then decrease cholesterol accumulation, allowing blood to flow freely. Also, HDL is increased, allowing cholesterol to be sent in its rightful place for excretion: The liver. Blood viscosity is decreased, improving overall blood pressure, and improving tissue health, 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 in abundance, allowing us to see improved blood supply, and improved oxygen flow throughout the body. This, in turn, improves overall tissue health as well, making sure oxygen is received through every part of the body.
Endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHP), as seen above, is also increased, allowing smooth muscle cells to relax, causing increased blood flow, as well as a reduced risk of any chronic or acute cardiovascular diseases. This is how berries, and the compounds within, can cause great health benefits, especially through the cardiovascular system, and integumentary system via healthy tissue, and endothelial enzymes which can improve blood and oxygen flow throughout the body.
In conclusion, we can see the benefits of these berries in aiding the heart, improving vascular functionality, and improving blood and tissue health, components so important to our overall health that it is detrimental when one is being lacked. Inevitably, great health is important, but with expanding research as well as reputed data, the benefits of these berries continue to expand. As we learn more about the chemicals involved within our body, we also learn more about the things that can influence or alter these chemicals, allowing us to be more mindful of what we are ingesting, and the effects it can cause.