An investigation carried out by a multidisciplinary team of UC scientists concluded that “the continued consumption of blueberries, in daily doses of about 240 grams, has a strong impact on the liver, providing important clues to guide” its “healthy and safe consumption”, says UC.

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. Considering the enriched phytochemical composition of the blueberry, in a diversity of bioactive compounds that “seem to be able to confer innumerable protective effects in different conditions, it seemed [to the researchers] very pertinent to also perceive the impact of the consumption of this 'superfood' in the long term, in a healthy condition”, explained 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, cited by UC.

For this, the researchers evaluated a set of metabolic parameters, with emphasis on the liver, and particularly on mitochondrial functions, in adult rats submitted for 14 weeks to a regular consumption of natural blueberry juice (equivalent in a man to a glass and a half of juice per day). It was observed that in pre-diabetic rats “there was a protection from hepatic steatosis (accumulation of fat in the liver) and a huge impact at the level of the mitochondria”, says Sara Nunes, a PhD student in the scope of this project.

In the case of healthy rats, points out Sara Nunes, it was 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”. The results observed in healthy rats suggest that the continued consumption of blueberries forces a metabolic reprogramming, the consequences of which (beneficial or harmful) remain unclear.