Blueberries May Increase Natural Killer Cells
Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell essential to the immune system, because they provide rapid response to viral-infected cells. A recent study suggests that blueberries may contain certain bioactive compounds that help increase natural killer cells counts.
Participants in the study included 25 men and postmenopausal women. Over the course of six weeks, they were given either the equivalent of 250 grams of blueberries (approximately 1 1/2 cups) or a placebo powder. The researchers measured blood pressure, took blood samples, and tested vascular performance at the beginning and the conclusion of the study.
At the end of the study, the participants in the blueberry group had higher levels of natural killer cells. Those in the blueberry group who were pre-hypertensive at the beginning of the study had lower diastolic blood pressure after supplementation. The placebo group showed no changes.
Researchers from Appalachian State University conducted the study. It was published in the July 2014 issue of Nutrition Research.
Previous studies have found associations between eating blueberries and a lower risk of dementia, aid in weight management, improved blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. They are easy to add to your diet and go well with pancakes, salads and smoothies.