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New Study Finds Benefits of Combining Blueberries and Exercise

Good news for serious athletes and weekend warriors.

Good news for serious athletes and weekend warriors.

Portland, Maine – Researchers in North Carolina have discovered that combining blueberries with exercise offers two potential health benefits – the ability for the body to burn fat longer after exercise, and improved absorption of inflammation-reducing antioxidant compounds called polyphenols.

Elite athletes, like those who participated in the study, are not the only ones who may benefit from the combination of blueberries and exercise. “This is good news for weekend warriors too,” noted study co-leader Dr. Mary Ann Lila.

Long-distance runners were given a soy protein complex containing polyphenols from blueberries and green tea for two weeks, followed by three days of running 2.5 hours per day. This group of runners showed higher rates of absorption of beneficial polyphenols, and their metabolism rate remained elevated longer after exercise compared with runners who were given only the soy protein complex.

Researchers know that polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds that are abundant in blueberries, and even more so in Wild Blueberries, work in the body to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Increasing the body’s ability to absorb polyphenols means the body can better fight inflammation and oxidative stress.

The study also found an increase in the body’s ability to burn fat after exercise. Metabolic afterburn – the spike in metabolism that occurs after exercise – lasted longer in the group that ingested the blueberry/green tea complex. This increased fat burning ability lasted 14 hours after exercise ended. “The test group burned fat while they slept – a terrific message,” said Dr. Lila.

“The findings in this study are encouraging for everyone. They are another demonstration of the potential benefits of consuming blueberries before and after exercise,” said Dr. Lila.

About the Study
The study authors are David C. Nieman, Amy M. Knab and R. Andrew Shanely of the Human Performance Laboratory, Appalachian State University, North Carolina Research Campus; Nicholas D. Gillitt and Fuxia Jin of the Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, North Carolina Research Campus; Kirk L. Pappan, Metabolon, Inc., Durham, North Carolina; and, Mary Ann Lila of the Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Research Campus.

The study was published in Plos One on August 15, 2013.
(http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0072215)