Diabetics and prediabetics, who might develop diabetes anytime in the future, could normalize their blood sugar levels with the help of blueberries. Both the berries as well as the leaves of the blueberry plants contain compounds capable of resisting abnormal increase in the blood sugar level.
Blueberries reduce diabetes risk
Blueberries, taken in different forms, are beneficial for diabetics and pre-diabetics. In earlier laboratory studies, researchers have observed that regular intake of powdered blueberry, comprising 2 per cent of the diet, helped to improve the fasting glucose level and increased insulin sensitivity in obese rats.
In a recent study, researchers at the Louisiana State University have studied the direct effect of blueberries on humans. According to the study, reported in The Journal of Nutrition, regular consumption of blueberry smoothies helps to improve insulin sensitivity in obese adults with pre-diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition characterized by blood sugar level, marginally higher than the normal level. Poor insulin sensitivity is believed to be responsible for this condition. If left unattended, pre-diabetes leads to insulin resistant diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
In the Louisiana State University study, a group of obese adults with pre-diabetes was asked to take blueberry smoothie containing 22.5 grams of freeze-dried blueberries, which were crushed into powder.
The volunteers took the blueberry smoothie twice a day, for up to six weeks. Another group of pre-diabetic individuals was given a placebo drink. The physical activities and the diet of both the groups remained unaltered.
However, the researchers made a slight adjustment in the total calorie intake of the participants to prevent weight gain by drinking smoothies. At the end of the study period, the blueberry smoothie drinkers recorded at least 10 per cent improvement in insulin sensitivity.
The cellular pathway that improved insulin sensitivity by taking blueberries remains unclear. Nonetheless, researchers believe that antioxidant compounds, known as anthocyanins, present in blueberries are responsible for the blood sugar lowering property of the berries.
Blueberry leaves treat diabetes
Folk healers in Europe recommend bilberry and blueberry leaves for treating diabetes. Tea made with blueberry leaves could be taken by diabetes patients to normalize their blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that blueberry leaves extract could cause up to 26 per cent decline in the blood sugar level.