Awareness of the human health benefits of blueberries is underpinned by a growing body of positive scientific evidence from human observational and clinical research, plus mechanistic research using animal and in vitro models. Blueberries contain a large number of phytochemicals, including abundant anthocyanin pigments. Of their various phytochemicals, anthocyanins probably make the greatest impact on blueberry health functionality. Epidemiological studies associate regular, moderate intake of blueberries and/or anthocyanins with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, death, and type 2 diabetes, and with improved weight maintenance and neuroprotection. These findings are supported by biomarker-based evidence from human clinical studies. Among the more important healthful aspects of blueberries are their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions and their beneficial effects on vascular and glucoregulatory function. Blueberry phytochemicals may affect gastrointestinal microflora and contribute to host health. These aspects have implications in degenerative diseases and conditions as well as the aging process. More evidence, and particularly human clinical evidence, is needed to better understand the potential for anthocyanin-rich blueberries to benefit public health. However, it is widely agreed that the regular consumption of tasty, ripe blueberries can be unconditionally recommended.
Keywords: anthocyanin; berries; cardiovascular; cognition; diabetes; obesity; processing; vision.
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