Introduction of the article
This article covers the major health benefits of blueberries. Blueberries sharpen the mind, brighten the skin, fight cancer, slow down the aging process, increase motor function, fight with the free radicals in the body, improve gut health, and boost immunity.
Let’s see together the main advantages of Blueberries
Key Points of Health Benefits of Blueberries
- Blueberry (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus) is a flowering shrub that produces berries with a bluish-violet hue also called bilberries. They are green in color when they first appear, then turn purple and blue as they mature.
- Flavonoids, including anthocyanins in blueberries, protect and strengthen the connections between neurons, increasing their communication. This reduces the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- The antioxidant-rich blueberry extract improves memory and learning abilities after six months of use.
- Consumption of blueberry smoothies also reduces exercise-induced muscle damage or EIMD in athletes.
- The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family of antioxidant polyphenols called flavonoids. A group of flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins, are believed to be responsible for much of the health benefits of these berries.
- Blueberries reduce DNA damage, which may help protect against aging and cancer. Damage in DNA caused free radicles. These free radicles are easily tackled by blueberries.
- Blueberries protect the cholesterol in your blood from damage.
- The oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol is a crucial step in the process of heart disease.
- Blueberries are the king of antioxidant foods: Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and disease, like cancer.
Detailed health benefits of blueberries
1) Maintain healthy bones
Blueberries contain Fe, P, Ca, Mg, Mn, and vitamin K. These elements are components of bone and their adequate intake helps to build and maintain bone structure and strength.
Iron and zinc play a crucial role in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints.
2) Skin health
A cup of blueberries provides 24% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C can also improve the ability of collagen to smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Collagen is the skin’s support system. It relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient and helps prevent skin damage caused by sun, pollution, and smoke.
3) Prevent cancer
The vitamin C, vitamin A, and various phytonutrients in blueberries work as powerful antioxidants that can help protect cells from disease-related free radical damage.
Antioxidants can inhibit tumor growth, decrease inflammation in the body, and help slow cancers of the esophagus, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, prostate, and colon.
Folatepresent in blueberries plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. This can prevent cancer cells from forming due to mutations in DNA.
4) Improve mental health
Population-based studies have shown that blueberry consumption is linked to slower cognitive decline in older women.
Blueberries boost cognitive functioning. Cognitive functions are the brain activities, such as thinking, remembering, and learning.
A small 2011 study of older adults with early memory decline showed that after 12 weeks of blueberry consumption, there was an improvement in memory function as well as a decrease in depressive symptoms.
5) Healthy digestion, weight loss, and satisfying appetite
Blueberries help prevent constipation and maintain regularity for a healthy digestive tract due to their fiber content.
Dietary fiber plays the role of a bulking agent in the digestive system. Feeling full longer can reduce a person’s overall calorie intake.
6. Blueberries can lower blood pressure
Blueberries reduce high blood pressure, and so reduce Heart diseases. In an eight-week study, obese people who were at high risk for heart disease noted a 4–6% reduction in blood pressure after consuming 2 ounces (50 grams) of blueberries daily (18).
7. Blueberries May Help Prevent Heart Disease
A study of 93,600 nurses found that those who consumed the most anthocyanins, the main antioxidants in blueberries, had a 32% lower risk of heart attack than those who consumed the least.
As this was an observational study, it cannot prove that anthocyanins alone caused the risk reduction.
A study conducted at King’s College London investigated the effects of blueberry consumption on heart health and cardiovascular disease. During one month study, there was a significant reduction in blood clotting and blood vessel functioning.
8. May Help Fight Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Cranberry juice can help prevent urinary problems of urinary tract infections. Because blueberries are closely related to cranberries, they contain many of the same active substances as cranberry juice. These anti-adhesives substances help to prevent bacteria i.e. E. coli from attaching to the wall of our Urinary bladder.
9. Blueberries May Reduce Muscle Damage After Intense Exercise
Intense exercise can lead to muscle soreness fatigue and tiredness. Blueberry supplements can lessen the damage that occurs at the molecular level, minimizing soreness and reducing muscle performance.
In a small study of 10 female athletes, blueberries accelerated muscle recovery after intense leg exercises.
10. May Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Blueberries are both low in sugar and a good source of fiber, therefore they have a low glycemic index (GI). This, combined with their high flavonoid content, can help improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for blood sugar management and Improve insulin sensitivity.
“Blueberries have the ability to improve insulin sensitivity,” says Bansari Acharya, RDN, registered dietitian-nutritionist in Detroit, Michigan. “The anthocyanins in blueberries are what help improve insulin sensitivity.”
In a small 2010 study of obese, non-diabetic but insulin-resistant people, 67% of participants who ate blueberries saw at least a 10% improvement in insulin sensitivity, compared to just 41% in the placebo group.
11. Contain prebiotics
Blueberries contain prebiotics, so they support gut health. “Prebiotics are carbohydrates that are indigestible and are fed by healthy bacteria living in the gut. It’s important for healthy bacteria to grow, to populate out any harmful bacteria that enter the digestive tract. Without enough good bacteria, bad bacteria grow, causing inflammation that can affect your immune system.”
12. May Help Maintain Eye Health
Regularly including blueberries in your diet can improve vision and protect you against age-related macular degeneration. This is believed to be due to improved blood and oxygen flow to the eyes and antioxidant protection which may help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Are blueberries safe for everyone?
Blueberries, as well as fruits like apples, peaches, avocados, and raspberries, contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may have an allergic reaction to them, including skin rash and swelling.
The nutritional profile of blueberries
Blueberries are an incredible source of nutrients. In a cup of blueberries, there are:
• Calories: 85
• Fiber: 3.6 grams (13% DV). Dietary Fibers improve digestive system health, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body.
• Potassium: 116 milligrams (3% DV). Potassium regulates your heart rate, metabolizes carbohydrates, and maintains proper muscle function.
• Vitamin K: 29 micrograms (24% DV). Vitamin K creates the proteins necessary for blood clotting.
• Vitamin C: 4.6 milligrams (5% DV). Vitamin C helps to absorb Fe in your body.
• Folate: 9 micrograms (2% DV). Red blood cells are formed by this Folate, which help the body to receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide.
Eat frozen blueberries all year round
Blueberries are so protective that they deserve a place in your diet even out of season. To enjoy the 12 months of the year, you can freeze fresh blueberries or buy frozen bags without added ingredients. If you have an abundance of fresh berries from the market or your local farmer’s store, freeze what you cannot eat.
Here’s how to freeze them?
Wash the berries and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet so they don’t touch each other and clump together.
Freeze these for 30 minutes then remove them and transfer them to freezer bags.
Then remove as much air as possible then seal it, label, and freeze. Your stash will keep for about six months.
Add frozen blueberries to smoothies or thaw them in the fridge to add to everything from oatmeal to garden salads. Blueberries have low calories and are high in nutrients.
The two most common types are
• Highbush blueberries: The most popular variety grown in the United States.
• Lowbush blueberries: These are smaller and richer in certain antioxidants.