Blue isn’t a color that comes up in nature too often. This is because blue pigment is somewhat hard to produce. Just about every food that does produce blue pigment, and not a faux blue, is associated with health benefits.
Blue berries for example are touted as a health food, and for good reason. They are probably the most well known blue food. There are others like spirulina, but one of my favorites sources of blue pigment is the flower known as blue butterfly. It has a whole host of benefits including being a nootropic/, being a strong anti-inflammatory, Blood sugar control, beauty care, along with being loaded with anthocyanins (blue pigment). This might be the only way that being blue is associated will feeling good.
Nootropic Properties and Other Brain Benefits of Blue Butterfly
“In conclusion, the extract was found to possess nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity.”(1)
Looking over the benefits of blue butterfly its easy to see why its so good for the brain. For one its considered a nootropic as it can enhance memory and other cognitive functions. It does this by increasing the acetylcholine concentration in the hippocampus. It is also a good pick me up if your down as its been shown to have moderate antidepressant properties when compared to fluoxitine, or trade name Prozac. Feeling nervous it is also good for anxiety. Alzheimer disease is associated with chronic inflammation. As it just so happens blue butterfly has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This is just one other way that blue butterfly greatly benefits the brain.
Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic (pain relieving) Properties
Speaking of inflammation, blue butterfly is a strong inhibitor of the of the COX-2 enzyme. This is the same mode of action as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, except none of the side effects. Not only does it suppress inflammation this way, but it also is effective at suppressing inflammation associated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). High consumption of sugar is linked to an increase in serum LPS. Then there is also a suppression of damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS). Not only does blue butterfly reduce inflammation, but it is also an analgesic meaning it relieves pain. The anti-inflammatory effects are more prominent.
Blood Sugar and Anti-glycation
One of the most important aspects of blue butterfly in my opinion is blue butterflies blood sugar and anti-glycation properties. To start off with it suppresses the absorption of sugar into the intestinal tract. this is big knowing how much sugar the average american consumes. Not only that, but it also prevents glycation from taking place. Glycation is the reason that diabetics develop nerve damage and even go blind. Excess sugar binds to proteins, red blood cells, etc… and impairs their function. They will eventually develop into what is referred to as an Advanced Glycation End Product (AGEs). So it makes sense that it also lowers AGEs, which contribute to a whole host of issues.
Why you want to Control Blood Sugar Levels
As it stands today, the average American consumes more sugar in a 2 week period than we did in an entire year back in the 1890’s. This was drastic increase in a macro-nutrient that used to be somewhat hard to find. There are a whole host of complications associated with elevated blood sugar. These include inflammation, nerve damage, stiffening of the blood vessels, water retention, lowered immunity, high cholesterol, raised cancer risk, acne, increased risk for infection, and more! This enough should get you to focus on controlling blood sugar levels. Did I mention that glycation is one of the major causes of wrinkles? Which leads us to our next topic.
As we talked about previously blue butterfly prevents glycation from happening. This is extremely beneficial to the skin as glycated collagen becomes brittle and this causes the skin to lose elasticity. One study even came to the conclusion “The data from this study support the use of C. ternatea (blue butterfly flower) extracts as antioxidant inclusions in cosmetic products.”(3) and some companies are using it. It has also been used in Thailand to help thicken or even treat/prevent hair loss. It aids in hair care in a few ways. First it increases blood flow to the scalp. This alows for more nutrients to get to the hair follicle. Speaking of nutrients for the hair follicle, the flower contains proteins that nourish follicles and stimulate hair growth.
The Power of Anthocyanin and other color pigments
As I was saying at the beginning blue color pigment is hard to produce and not found to often in nature. When it comes to anthocyanins they start out as a compound that occurs in many fruits and veggies quercetin. One of my favorite properties of quercetin is that it inhibits the enzyme aromatase. This enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen. For this reason a body builders and people on testosterone replacement therapy often take an aromatase inhibitor so that they don’t develop gynomastia (man boobs). Quercetin then becomes something called dihydroquercetin. Dihydroquercetin has some notible benifits as well. Its well noted that this compound causes the body to hold onto vitamin c and re-circulates it through the body. It also prevents it from being oxidized. Finally we get to the group of blue pigments known as anthocyanins, which we have already touched on the many benefits.
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