Thursday, December 2, 2010

Berry World

Blueberries: The Best of the Berry World
By Ada Polla, Alchimie Forever®

Blueberries have made it into the consumer media and
popular advertising campaigns as a healthful fruit to eat,
filled with antioxidants, colorful, round, and delicious. The
Vaccinium myrtillus L. fruit, known in English as bilberry or
blueberry, has powerful protective properties which have
been known and utilized since the Middle Ages, and have
been described in literature since the beginning of the
20th century. Today, blueberries have laid claim to the title,
“the most powerful antioxidants of all.”

However, there still is limited awareness of the potential benefits of blueberries for the skin. Several compounds, in particular polyphenols (including anthocyanins, resveratrol and iron chelators such as quercetin and myricetin) and vitamins, have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the Vaccinium myrtillus L. plant. Thus blueberry extracts exert many beneficial effects on the skin, which can essentially be broken down into three categories: vaso-protective activity (protection of cutaneous capillaries), antioxidant activity (anti-aging effect), and iron chelating activity (additional antioxidant, anti-aging effects).

Vaso-Protective Activity

Flushing, rosacea, and facial redness result from the dilation of fine capillaries located just beneath the epidermis.
While there is no cure for rosacea, there are a number of preventative measures that enable a better control of the symptoms and a minimization of facial redness. Any product that promotes the health of capillaries, delaying their dilation and eventual collapse, contributes to a management of those symptoms.
Blueberries play a role in the management of flushing symptoms. They tighten and protect fine capillaries thanks to anthocyanins, and are thus ideal in skin care products targeting redness-prone skin. The vaso-protective effects of blueberries began to be described in the 1960s, when the fruit’s capillary resistance and permeability were first analyzed. Since, studies have confirmed that blueberries increase capillary resistance.

Antioxidant Activity

The fact that antioxidants are essential in maintaining the skin’s youthfulness is now a well established concept.
The key purpose of antioxidants is to neutralize free radicals, which are primarily caused by excessive UV exposure.

Antioxidants aim to prevent, stop, or repair these various reactions caused by free radicals. Specifically, the anthocyanosidic extract, a powerful scavenger of free radicals. They inhibit lipid citrin coloration and prevent the production of elastase, which is involved in the loss of suppleness and dehydration.

Iron Chelating Activity

Iron has often been featured in the health and consumer press in the context of anemia (i.e. iron deprivation). While many have discussed the various ways of ensuring appropriate iron intake, whether through diet (red meat and various fruits and vegetables), or through the daily use of supplements, few realize that there is a dark side to iron, namely excess iron.

Excess iron is involved in a number of diseases, which all have an oxidative component (whether cardiovascular, brain, or muscle diseases), as well as in premature skin aging. Indeed, free iron is involved in various chemical reactions that lead to the production of the hydroxyl radical, one of the most harmful free radicals.

Once again, blueberries play a key protective role. Indeed, research has shown that quercetin and myricetin (two types of flavonoids found in blueberries) have iron chelating properties, meaning that they minimize the formation of free radicals stimulated by excess free iron and UV light.

So eat your blueberries, but put them on your face too!
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