Health benefits of blueberries
Blueberries, whether added to drinks, dishes, or snacks give a refreshing taste. Rich in flavor and sweetness, this fruit packs a whole lot of nutrients and promotes overall health. And as a result, is referred to as a superstar in the fruit world.
There is really so much more behind just the little vibrant blue rounded fruit you see everywhere. Eating just a handful will reward you with long-lasting benefits. Blueberries are great as breakfasts and even desserts.
What are blueberries?
Blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum is a fruit native to North America. This blue or purple fruit grows just above the ground on bushes and is juicy and sweet to taste.
Blueberries have other species present mainly in North America, Asia, and Europe. Many commercially sold blueberries hail from North America for wild(lowbush) blueberries and British Columbia for cultivated(highbush) blueberries.
Blueberries are really small- around 0.2-0.6 inches in diameter
In the early 20th century, a smart woman by the name of Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer thought it fit to grow a flourishing industry for cultivated blueberries.
With the combined effort of a USDA botanist, Frederick Coville, the first commercial crop of blueberries was harvested and sold in 1960.
The most common blueberry variety amongst others is the highbush blueberry- which we see mostly in supermarkets or stores.
And the other variety, lowbush blueberry is smaller and richer in antioxidants. The highbush blueberry grows from a flowering bush.
This bush grows small white flowers that blossom into hard green berries that later ripen in the early summer, becoming blueberries.
Blueberries are available from June to August, but due to vast commercial production all over the world, they are available year-round.
Nutrition fact of blueberries.
Blueberries have been on the list of healthiest fruits for a very long time. And not just because of their health-promoting vitamin C content, but also fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients- all of which protect against oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is majorly linked to most health complications like diabetes, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular conditions, etc.
The powerful antioxidant and nutrients present in blueberries has a positive impact on the health
Blueberries contain a special antioxidant, anthocyanin which is responsible for its very vibrant blue color and powerful health benefits.
They are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium, and folate but low in carbs and sodium.
According to the USDA, the nutritional value for 100grams of blueberries is:
- 37 calories
- 84% water content
- 7gram protein
- 10grams sugar
- 4grams fiber
- 3gram fat
- 77mg of potassium- 2% of DV
- Vitamin A- 1% of DV
- Vitamin C- 16% of DV
- Vitamin B6: 5% of the DV
This superfood is relatively low in calories and rich in water. This means that blueberries can promote hydration, aid digestion, and promote weight loss.
Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg, let us see what more this nature’s wonder can do.
Benefits of blueberries
This tiny-looking fruit packs in a bevy of nutrients that delivers extraordinary benefits. Mere looking at this fruit, one wouldn’t doubt that nature’s gift is good for you.
What is in blueberry and how does it affect your health?
- Promotes Immunity and Gut Health: Blueberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin. This flavonoid is a disease-fighting compound found in plants and is responsible for its anti-inflammatory property.
As a result, blueberries can help promote the immune system and reduce the risk of infections and other illnesses such as cold, pox, and fever which are mostly spread by bacteria and viruses.
Blueberries are rich in prebiotics that helps to keep your gut healthy.
Their fiber and phytochemical content provide fuel for the probiotics in your gut. Note that while probiotics are important, prebiotics is as well.
When your microbiome (the entire microbes in your gut) is healthy, your immune system is boosted and can function at its best.
Fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy and strong immune system, and it certainly won’t hurt to consume blueberries.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Anthocyanins deserve an entire spotlight for being the mastermind behind the health benefits of blueberries.
Anthocyanins lower blood pressure by improving cells that regulate blood pressure.
Blueberries have a significant impact on people with high blood pressure and hence, reduces the risk for heart disease.
In an eight-week study, it was found that there was a 4-6% reduction in blood pressure for obese people with a high risk of heart disease, after consuming 2 ounces (50 grams) of blueberries per day.
Go grab yourself a bowl of blueberries salad or even frozen blueberries.
- Promote Cardiovascular Health: Eating blueberries may lower blood pressure and oxidize LDL cholesterol, but there is barely any evidence to prove that blueberries actually prevented heart disease.
More evidence needs to be done to prove whether blueberries cause a reduction in risk factors such as low blood pressure and also help prevent endpoints like a heart attack.
According to the American Heart Association, blueberries are fiber-rich foods that support heart health, and these foods have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
A study involving 93,600 nurses found that those with the highest intake of the main antioxidant in blueberries(anthocyanins) had their risk of heart disease lowered by 32% compared to those with the lowest intake of anthocyanins.
This observational study alone cannot prove the authenticity of this claim. More studies are needed to prove that anthocyanin can reduce the risk of heart disease and promote heart health.
There is really no harm in adding berries to your diet as it is a healthy fruit that can promote overall health.
- Reduces The Risk Of Cancer: This superfood is of no doubt loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids. They contain the highest concentration of antioxidants that can fight diseases and neutralize free radicals.
Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that damage cells and DNA, including cancer-causing molecules. Blueberries have been shown to prevent the risk of breast, gastrointestinal, prostate, liver, and even lung cancers, according to a review.
Flavonoids- packed blueberries may help reduce inflammation and oxidative DNA damage that could cause cancer.
In one study, 168 people drank 34 ounces of juice mixed with apple and blueberry daily.
After 4 weeks, it was concluded that oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20%. Blueberries and their juice can reduce the leading cause of cancer, oxidative DNA damage.
- Improves Brain And Memory Function: Blueberries promote brain health and keep you mentally sharp.
Oxidative stress can boost the process of brain aging and cause a decline in brain function.
According to animal studies, the antioxidant, anthocyanin, in blueberries may affect the part of your brain responsible for intelligence and memory function. Human studies have also found meaningful results in this aspect.
A study involving nine older adults with mild cognitive impairment consumed blueberry juice daily. After 12 weeks, these participants experienced an improvement in several markers of brain function.
Research showed that women who ate about 2 servings of blueberries a week experienced a less mental decline over time than peers who did not consume this superfood. everyday
Research, also suggests that consuming blueberries regularly slows cognitive decline, reduces depression symptoms, and improves memory function in older people.
Eating this powerhouse of nutrients would not only boost your physical health but also work amazingly on your overall mental health.
- Prevent Or Manage Diabetes: Blueberries are a fabulous choice for preventing or managing diabetes.
Although blueberries are sweet, their sweetness cannot promote diabetes or scare diabetic patients away. The bioactive compounds in blueberries outweigh any impact their sugar content could have on blood sugar control.
They are rich in fiber, meaning diabetics or nondiabetics can add it to their diet.
Blueberries are packed with 2.4grams of fiber per cup and 15grams of carbohydrate which makes them a stellar choice to prevent diabetes.
The anthocyanins present in both blueberry juice and extract are responsible for the positive effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, according to research.
Improved insulin sensitivity may lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
In a study involving 32 obese participants with insulin resistance, two blueberry smoothies consumed daily caused a major improvement in insulin sensitivity.
- Weight Loss: Looking for a way to shed few pounds, keep it off and maintain a healthy weight? Blueberries remain one of the best natural choices.
Blueberries are loaded with 2.4gram fiber that can promote digestion and lead to weight loss.
Also, it contains 84% water content that can increase feelings of fullness and control portion size, aid digestion, and promote weight loss. Feeling satiated is a crucial part of managing your diet.
Not to forget its low calorie and carb content, 84 and 15grams respectively.
So, if you are on a low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet, you can incorporate blueberries into your diet in small amounts.
- Strengthens Bones: According to the National Institute of Health, blueberries are rich sources of magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorous, zinc, manganese, iron, and calcium that contribute to the development and strength of healthy bones.
Blueberries can also reduce muscle soreness and fatigue often caused by strenuous exercise. In a study in 10 female athletes. After consuming a blueberry smoothie, their muscle recovery accelerated after a strenuous leg exercise.
Consuming blueberry supplements can lessen muscle damage at the molecular level, thereby, reducing soreness and improving muscle performance.
- Fight Urinary Tract Infections: Cranberries and cranberry juice are noted for fighting urinary tract infections.
Since they are closely related to blueberries, they possess the most antioxidants and substances essential for fighting urinary tract infections.
The anthocyanin content of both cranberries and blueberries has been shown to have protective properties against the E. coli bacteria strain which is a major factor for urinary tract infections.
These properties prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder.
- Vision Health: Blueberries contain antioxidant properties that can reduce the risk of age-related eye problems such as macular degeneration, myopia, hypermetropia, cataracts, and also infections related to the retina.
Blueberries pack special and powerful antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, quercetin, rutin. And other antioxidant compounds that benefit and promote vision health.
- Skin Care: Blueberries are high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and anthocyanins- all of which can nourish the skin, reduce inflammation and promote wound healing.
Whether used topically or as part of a diet, using blueberries is a great tip for skincare routines.
Blueberries help deal with psoriasis and eczema, supports wound healing, naturally boost collagen, fights premature aging, cures acne, etc.
How to add blueberries to your diet?
Blueberries can be added to your diet in tons of ways. The best amount of blueberries to eat per day is 2 cups for optimal health.
It is advised to eat blueberries after they are steamed to enhance the number of antioxidants. Although, more research is needed as to why this is beneficial.
Blueberries can be used as an accompaniment to breakfast, say a topping for oatmeal or any cereal of your choice- which can even boost fiber intake. Adding blueberries to different kinds of fruit and vegetables to make a salad can boost overall health.
Fruits that go well with blueberries include apples, pineapple, watermelon, banana, etc.
Blueberries are also great in cocktails and even as a flavor for most baked goods and desserts. Blueberries are an ideal natural sweetener to replace white sugar or even maple syrup.
They can also be useful in smoothies. Blueberries add a refreshing taste and promote an exciting feeling when used in smoothies.
To make a rich blueberry smoothie, the source for a cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 peeled oranges, 1 medium-sized banana and frozen, 2 cups frozen blueberries. Put all these ingredients in a blender and blend till you get a smooth consistency.
Frozen blueberries can be mixed with ice-cream, cookie crumbles, and even Greek yogurt parfait.
Blueberry face mask:
This face mask prevents and cures acne.
- Mashed blueberries
- A teaspoon of honey
- 3 drops of lemon juice
- Mix the mashed blueberries, honey, and lemon juice thoroughly in a bowl.
- Apply all over the face and leave for 15-20 minutes
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water and avoid contact with your eyes
- Dry face with a clean towel
Blueberry face mask 2:
This face mask is excellent for all skin types.
- 1/4 Fresh blueberries
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- Mix mashed fresh blueberries with yogurt thoroughly in a bowl
- Apply all over your face and leave for 15-20 minutes
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water and avoid contact with your eyes
- Dry face with a clean towel
Potential risks of blackberries
Blueberry is entirely safe to consume in the amounts found naturally in food. In diabetic patients, blood sugar levels should be monitored while using blueberry supplements.
Eating blueberry fruit is safe for people with diabetes but taking supplements made with blueberry leaves can cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
It is best to avoid blueberries for at least 2 weeks before surgery as they could affect blood sugar levels and interfere with blood sugar control during or after the surgery.
People taking prescription blood thinners should not change their level of Vitamin K without asking their doctor.
Blueberries are rich in vitamin K, and suddenly increasing or decreasing levels of vitamin K can cause an increase in bleeding.
Blueberries are super healthy and are a nutritional powerhouse. They are also flavorful, colorful, sweet, and can be enjoyed fresh or frozen.
When next you spot an aisle of products, add them to your basket. Your body will thank you for this.