Blueberry extract is a natural substance sold in supplement form. Said to offer a range of health benefits, blueberry extract is often touted as a rich source of antioxidants. These antioxidants include anthocyanins, a class of compounds purported to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease and cancer.
Why Do People Use Blueberry Extract?
Blueberry extract is typically used to treat or prevent the following conditions:
- age-related macular degeneration
- Alzheimer's disease
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
In addition, blueberry extract is said to offer anti-aging benefits.
Benefits of Blueberry Extract
Although research on the health effects of blueberry extract is fairly limited, some studies suggest that blueberry extract may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:
Findings from laboratory research and animal-based studies indicate that blueberry extract may aid in diabetes management. In a 2009 study published in Phytomedicine, for instance, scientists found that treating diabetic mice with blueberry extract helped lower blood sugar levels.
2) High Blood Pressure
Blueberry extract may help keep blood pressure in check, according to an animal-based study published in Nutrition Research in 2009. In tests on rats, researchers discovered that blueberry extract helped prevent the development of high blood pressure. In addition, blueberry extract appeared to reduce oxidative stress (a major contributor to heart disease).
3) Alzheimer's Disease
Animal-based research suggests that blueberry extract shows promise for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. For example, a 2010 study on rats (published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry) found that blueberry extract helped shield the animals' brains from the toxic effects of amyloid-beta (a substance that forms the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease).
4) Blueberry Extract and Cancer
Some preliminary studies show that blueberry extract may help fight breast cancer. These studies include a 2010 report published in Cancer Research, in which scientists found that blueberry extract helped inhibit the growth of cancerous breast tumors in mice. In a test-tube study published in Phytotherapy Research the same year, anthocyanins extracted from blueberries appeared to slow the growth of breast cancer cells.
To date, little is known about the safety of long-term use of blueberry extract supplements. However, since blueberry extract may lower blood sugar levels, it's important to take caution when using these supplements in combination with diabetes medication.
Learn more about safe use of dietary supplements.
Alternatives to Blueberry Extract
In addition, you can increase your intake of anthocyanins by consuming whole blueberries (as well as other types of berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates, and grapes).
Where To Find Blueberry Extract
Widely available for purchase online, supplements containing blueberry extract can be found in many natural-foods stores and drugstores.
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