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Another benefit of dark berries: blood sugar control

Using berries to better control blood sugar? Believe it.

Study under review: Purified anthocyanin supplementation reduces dyslipidemia, enhances antioxidant capacity, and prevents insulin resistance in diabetic patients

Introduction

The term “superfood” is one of the most popular health buzzwords in the media. The word doesn’t even have a well-defined meaning, but is usually used to refer to foods deemed ‘better’ for you than other options, even though ‘better’ isn’t defined either.

Many of these foods, like the acai berry, which became popular due to its antioxidant capacity, spend a short time in the spotlight before follow-up studies reveal that the food in question didn’t actually provide any unique health benefits. Other foods, like pomegranate juice, which can play a useful role in prostate health[1], provide specific benefits but don’t have nearly enough evidence to deem them ‘superfoods’.

Still, some foods really are better for you than others. Blueberries are a great example, as are other dark berries, as they can provide benefits for people with metabolic disorders, as well as healthy people.

These benefits stem from the pigments in the berries, a class of molecules known as anthocyanins, which are also present in some other plant foods. Berries are the most commonly cited source of anthocyanins since they are common in the diet. Other options include purple rice (which is heavily researched, but not commonly eaten) and eggplant, which contain relatively few anthocyanins since they are only present in the skin, not the body of the vegetable. Dark berries hold promise for lifestyle-related diseases not only due to their effects, which are notable at reasonable dietary doses, but also for their palatability. Delicious fruit goes down far easier than medication.

So far, anthocyanins (either alone or in the form of berry products with specified anthocyanin content) have been linked to cognitive[2] benefits in the elderly[3], and reductions in blood pressure[4] in high risk individuals with cardiovascular disease. Their antioxidant effects have been linked to reductions in DNA damage[5]. Dark berries may also influence glucose metabolism, and previous research has noted that people with insulin resistance[6] experience benefits after dark berry consumption.

The study under review was specifically designed to assess the effects of anthocyanins in people with type II diabetes. Other factors were also tracked alongside insulin sensitivity to better determine if anthocyanins could play an adjunct therapy role, since it would be a low cost and low risk treatment.

Anthocyanins are found in dark berries and some other fruits and vegetables, and may have a positive impact on several aspects of health, including insulin resistance and blood pressure. The study under review was designed to examine the impact of anthocyanins as an add-on treatment for people with type II diabetes.

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Other Articles in Issue #06 (April 2015)