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The discovery, already published in the journal Pharmaceutics, came about during a study that aims to evaluate the possible beneficial effects of blueberry juice in the context of pre-diabetes, in an animal model.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Coimbra (UC) found that the continued consumption of blueberry in daily doses of about 240 grams has a strong hepatic impact, providing important clues to guide a healthy and safe consumption of these berries rich in antioxidants.
Considering the enriched phytochemical composition of blueberry, in a diversity of bioactive compounds “that seem to be able to confer innumerable protective effects in different conditions, it seemed very pertinent to us also to understand the impact of the consumption of this “superfood” in a prolonged way, in a healthy condition” explain the study’s coordinators, Flávio Reis, and Sofia Viana, from the Institute of Clinical and Biomedical Research of Coimbra (iCBR), from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (FMUC).
To this end, the researchers evaluated a set of metabolic parameters, with emphasis on the liver, and particularly on mitochondrial functions, in adult rats subjected for 14 weeks to regular consumption of natural blueberry juice (equivalent in man to a glass and juice per day).
At the end of the experiment, when analyzing the results, namely at the level of the mitochondria – the energetic home of the cell – liver, it was observed that in pre-diabetic rats “there was a protection from liver steatosis (accumulation of fat in the liver) and an impact huge at the level of mitochondria,” says Sara Nunes, a PhD student in the scope of this project.
In the case of healthy rats, she points out, “we found that the consumption of blueberry juice had no impact on the metabolic profile and there were no changes at the intestinal level. However, the liver impact was surprising, particularly in mitochondrial function, similar to an effect of a high calorie diet”.