Little blueberry pill

Little blueberry pill It’s such an exciting time to be in the nutrition industry.

The amount of hard science confirming what we already know keeps mounting day after day. And since I don’t expect you to hear about these findings from your usual sources of news, I’m happy to be the one to tell you about them.

So here’s the latest tidbit to file under “I told you so.” According to new European research, blueberry flavonoids (the antioxidant compounds that give plants their pigment) can boost vascular function in healthy men.

The best part? These are conclusive, gold standard studies. So the results really can’t be ignored.

For one thing, the authors conducted two separate randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover investigations, using specific quantities of active polyphenols. But they also analyzed blood samples, in order to address variables like bioavailability and polyphenol metabolism.

In other words, they were sure to cover all their bases.

The goal of this research was to see how these active compounds in blueberries influence functioning of the endothelium. (That’s just the technical term for the cells that line your blood vessels.)

The two trials featured 21 healthy men. Both studies looked at the effect of three different doses of blueberry flavonoids on blood vessel elasticity over time, as measured by flow-mediated dilation, or FMD.

Results from the first study showed significant improvements in FMD one to two hours after flavonoid consumption, and again at six hours. Blood levels of key polyphenols–including ferulic acid, isoferulic acid, vanillic acid, 2-hydroxybenzoic acid, benzoic acid, and caffeic acid–also spiked at this time.

The second study showed similar responses to blueberry polyphenols at dosages up to 766 mg. But after that, effects on FMD hit a plateau. Still, it was clear that, in this segment of healthy men at least, polyphenol intakes within this range delivered a significant circulatory benefit.

This is great news for men who want to preserve their heart health, their sexual health, and everything in between. After all, you can achieve the polyphenol dosages cited here in 100 to 240 grams of blueberries–about three to eight ounces.

That’s pretty doable in terms of daily consumption. And as interventions go, it’s as simple and low-cost as they come.

Of course, better circulation is just one reason to reach for a handful of blueberries. Another new study showed that they can boost immune function, too.

The secret behind this benefit is a compound called pterostilbene. Subscribers to my newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, may remember reading about pterostilbene back in February 2012. Emerging science indicates that it holds promise against everything from diabetes and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

This particular study looked at cell cultures in a laboratory setting. And it found that pterostilbene works in tandem with resveratrol and vitamin D to increase expression of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP)–a gene that’s essential to your body’s ability to fight off bacterial infections.

With the rising threat of antibiotic resistance, this potential benefit speaks for itself. Unfortunately, sunbathing with a glass of red wine and a pint of blueberries still isn’t likely to deliver the therapeutic dose you’re after.

So it’s a good thing there’s a much more practical and efficient way. Take at least 50 mg of pterostilbene, 500 mg of trans-resveratrol, and 2,000 to 5,000 IUs of D3 every day.

“Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep 4.
“Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep 14.