Damage to muscle cells exposed to oxidative stress was significantly reduced when also exposed to doses of blueberry fruit extracts, according to findings published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
“In our study blueberry fruits were suggested as good candidates to combat muscle oxidative damage although further investigations especially at an in vivo level are needed,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Roger Hurst from New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.
Blueberries, nature's only 'blue' food, are a rich source of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that include phenolics acids, tannins, flavonols and anthocyanins.
The berries are said to have a number of positive health effects, including cholesterol reduction, and prevention against some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The popularity of the berry has increased in recent years with the publication of more science supporting its health benefits, and an overall consumer move towards 'superfruits' and all things 'antioxidant'.
Potential with perspective
While the new study supports a potential role for improved muscle health, the researchers note the limitations of their in vitro approach, particularly in relation to how this translates to effects in vivo.
“Much further research using human intervention studies is warranted to fully understand the implication of the findings reported here with our in vitro evaluations,” wrote the researchers. “Bioavailability concerns also make it difficult to evaluate if the doses used in this and many other published in vitro studies are appropriate.”
Dr Hurst and his co-workers used developing skeletal muscle fibres, also known as myotubes, and exposed them to various concentrations of fruit extracts, as well as a calcium compound known to induce stress as occurs in exercising muscle (calcium ionophore), or a compound known to induce oxidative stress (hydrogen peroxide).