ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
It Pays to Eat Less as You Age
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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Milk Destroys Antioxidant Benefits in Blueberries

Blueberries have a high affinity for milk protein

A new study reported in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine investigated whether antioxidant properties of blueberries were reduced because of their affinity for protein. They assessed the bio-availability of phenolics after consumption of blueberries with and without milk. Phenolics are the active compounds in plants that give blueberries their antioxidant potential.

Volunteers consumed 200 g of blueberries with 200 ml of either water or whole milk. Blood samples were collected at baseline and at intervals following consumption. The samples revealed that ingestion of blueberries with water increased plasma levels and concentrations of caffeic and ferulic acids. When blueberries and milk were ingested together, there was no increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. There was a reduction in the peak plasma concentrations of caffeic and ferulic acids as well as the overall absorption of caffeic acid.

Ferulic acid provides rigidity to cell walls and protects the nervous system. It has a normalizing effect on blood pressure. Caffeic acid is also a powerful protector of neurons. Other research has shown caffeic acid has the potential to prevent neurodegenerative disease.

This study suggests that the best way to gain maximum benefits from blueberries and other fruits eaten for their polyphenol content is to consume them either one hour before protein is consumed, or two hours after.

The effects of ferulic and caffeic acids on neurons may be what give blueberries their ability to influence cognition and learning. A study reported in the August, 2008 journal Nutrition and Neuroscience looked at cognitive impairment in age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's as being due to long-term exposure and increased susceptibility to inflammatory insults. They investigated whether polyphenols in blueberries could reduce the deleterious effects of induced inflammation.

Rats were fed a diet that included a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), or a 2 percent blueberry diet. After two weeks and behavioral evaluation, the rats were examined and total RNA from the hippocampus was extracted to analyze the expression of inflammation-related genes. The researchers found the blueberry diet was able to improve cognitive performance to a much greater degree than was the NSAID diet. Blueberry eaters showed a reduction in several factors influencing the inflammatory response. They concluded that blueberry polyphenols can lessen learning impairments resulting from neurotoxic insult and exert anti-inflammatory actions, perhaps by alteration of gene expression.

Other studies have found that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging animals, making them mentally equivalent to animals much younger.
Blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses

Researchers at Tufts University recently analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capabilities. Blueberries were tops among all that were studied, ranking highest in the capacity to destroy free radicals. Antioxidants in blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer.

The pigments that give blueberries their color improve the structure of veins and the vascular system. They enhance the effects of vitamin C and inhibit enzymes from cleaving the collagen matrix. Maintaining a stable collagen matrix is essential for health of bones, tendons, cartilage and connective tissue. The collagen matrix is what keeps skin from wrinkling and sagging.

Eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day including blueberries lowers risk of age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of vision loss in older adults. Blueberries are loaded with eye healthy and vision preserving carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, and flavonoids like rutin, resveratrol and quercitin. And they contain a wealth of minerals needed for vision and overall health, like selenium and zinc.

Blueberries are high in the soluble fiber pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. They provide greater cardio-protective antioxidant capability than red wine.

Blueberries' cancer fighting properties are legendary. Ellagitannins is probably the most highly prized compound in blueberries because of its ability to block metabolic pathways that can lead to the initiation and promotion of cancer. A study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that blueberries inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce programmed cell death. Blueberries contain kaempferol. This compound was shown in the Women's Health Study to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 40 percent in women who diets provided the greatest amounts. Blueberries also contain pterostilbene, another powerful cancer fighting compound.

Both diarrhea and constipation can be relieved with blueberries. Their tannin concentration helps reduce inflammation in the digestive tract as well as in the urinary tract. They provide safety form the bacteria that cause food borne illnesses.

Blueberries are terrific anti-depressants and mood elevators.
Choosing and using blueberries

For many people seeing the price tag for fresh organic blueberries is a real jolt. Some of the cost can be minimized by buying wild blueberries. These are often the same quality as those certified organic. Frozen blueberries provide all the antioxidant potential and other nutrients found in fresh ones. If you are looking for frozen berries, check the bag to make sure the berries move around freely and are not stuck together, indicating they have been thawed and refrozen. If you like some juice with your blueberries, frozen is the way to go.

As a general rule, the riper the fruit the greater its antioxidant content.

Organic dried blueberries are also a good choice, especially for snacking since the sweetness is accentuated by the drying process. The antioxidant potential of dried blueberries can be as much as four times greater than that of fresh. Organic dried berries will have been dried at temperatures low enough to protect their antioxidant capabilities.

Heat is a destroyer of the antioxidant potential of blueberries, making canned or other processed berries a poor choice. Fresh or frozen blueberries can be pureed and fed to babies. Blueberries in baby food jars will have lost most of their nutritional value.

-Barbara Minton