As you will see in the “Berries & Other Fruits” section of our news archive, cell and animal studies indicate that berries are true super-foods.
They appear to exert beneficial influences on genes controlling inflammation, oxidative stress (free radicals), and key aspects of brain, heart, and metabolic health.
The benefits of blueberries and other berries clearly stem from their abundance of polyphenol “antioxidants” … specifically, flavanols such as anthocyanins and procyanidins.
And fruit-source polyphenols have been shown to fight the development of fat cells (adipogenesis) while stimulating the breakdown of stored fats (lipolysis).
Berries and their bretheren influence genes beneficially
Polyphenols in fruits, tea, cocoa, and more as commonly called “antioxidants”.
But, rather than via direct antioxidant effects in the body, these compounds appear to benefit health by exerting generally desirable “nutrigenomic” influences on the expression of various genes.
Blueberries probably aren't unique in this respect.
Procyanidins abound in other dark-hued berries and in açaí, grapes, red wine, cocoa, and tea, while anthocyanins abound in cherries, açaí, and most berries.
Meanwhile, extra virgin olive oil is rich in hydroxytyrosol … the second most potent polyphenol in terms of antioxidant and nutrigenomic activity in the test tube … with strong, clinically documented vascular benefits.
Earlier this year, a researcher from Texas Woman's University presented the results of an experiment designed to test whether blueberries could play a cell-level role in reducing obesity.
Texas mouse-cell test shows body-fat prevention promise
Shiwani Moghe, M.S., a graduate student at TWU, tested whether blueberry polyphenols play a role in “adipocyte differentiation” … the process by which a cell acquires the features of adipocytes cells, which create and store body fat.
“I wanted to see if using blueberry polyphenols could inhibit obesity at a molecular stage,” said Moghe. (FASEB 2011)
Moghe presented her research at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting for the American Society for Nutrition.
The study was performed in tissue cultures taken from mice, samples of which were exposed to one of three different doses of blueberry polyphenols.
As predicted, there was less adipocyte-differentiation in the cells exposed to blueberry polyphenols.
And the fat content in the control group of cells was significantly higher than the content of the tissue exposed to blueberry polyphenols.
The highest dose of blueberry polyphenols yielded a 73 percent decrease in fat content of the tissue cultures while the lowest dose produced a 27 percent decrease.
Importantly, the blueberry polyphenols discouraged adipocyte differentiation in a dose-dependent way … a relationship that proves these compounds fight formation of stored body fat.
While this benefit was observed in mouse cells isolated in the test tube, it fits with berry polyphenols' documented nutrigenomic influences on the expression of relevant genes.
As Moghe said, “We still need to test this dose in humans, to make sure there are no adverse effects, and to see if the doses are as effective. The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body.” (FASEB 2011)
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The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Blueberries May Inhibit Development of Fat Cells. April 10, 2011. Accessed at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/foas-bmi040711.php