With Memorial Day just a couple of weeks away, we're on the verge of summer's official arrival.
It’s an important occasion -- not only to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the ol’ Red, White and Blue, but also to celebrate the next few months of sunshine that are headed our way.
But there’s another reason to rejoice at this time of year, too – and that’s for all the delicious summer produce that's coming our way.
From bright red tomatoes and cherries... to deep purple eggplant and plums... and orange-hued peaches and nectarines, there's about to be a rainbow of tasty options.
But according to the latest research, there's one summer fruit in particular that really stands out -- and not just because it's the only blue thing in your basket!
I'm talking about blueberries.
A new study shows that this "super" berry can change your gut bacteria for the better, which can tamp down inflammation and slash your risk of diabetes.
In the study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers fed rats the equivalent of a "cheeseburgers and milkshakes" diet, either alone or supplemented with blueberry powder.
Now, we know that diets that fatten up rats (and men) are linked to the growth of harmful strains of gut bacteria.
But after two months, it turned out that the guts of rats that ate blueberry powder contained MORE of a certain strain of BENEFICIAL bacteria than the guts of the rats that didn't.
The theory is that compounds that give blueberries their vibrant color, called "anthocyanins," can directly alter your gut population.
And when the composition of the rats’ gut bacteria improved, so did the integrity of the gut lining.
The rats in the blueberry group had LESS leakage of gut toxins into their bloodstream than the rats who didn't eat the berries.
And since "leaky" guts are known to trigger an inflammatory response by the immune system, these gut improvements may be why rats in the blueberry group also REDUCED their markers of inflammation -- even while inflammation increased in the non-blueberry group.
What's more, the positive gut changes may also explain why only the blueberry group had IMPROVED insulin resistance, since imbalances in gut bacteria can also make your cells more resistant to insulin.
Of course, blueberries' benefits don't end in your gut. These petite but powerful berries have also been proven to fight cancer... keep your blood vessels healthy... and even protect against cognitive decline.
And now that fresh blueberry season has arrived, it's the perfect time to load up your cart with these sweet, juicy berries.
Blueberries are delicious by themselves, but you can also toss them into salads, add them to Greek yogurt, or blend them into smoothies.
You can also find blueberry extract in liquid, powder, or capsule form in the supplement aisle.
Just stay away from those blueberry muffins and milkshakes.