11 Benefits of Blueberries Backed by Science

Your Time-Fighting-Brain-Boosting Snack

By Jacky Miller, R.D.

The blueberry is an amazing fruit, both in terms of its flavor and incredible nutritional profile. Blueberries are jam packed with antioxidants — polyphenols, catechins, flavonols — along with lots of essential vitamins and nutrients — among of the highest scoring foods in terms of antioxidants in the entire world.

One cup of blueberries also includes the following nutrients:

  • Manganese (25 percent of your daily value) This trace mineral helps promote the production of healthy bones, along with keeping blood pressure regulated.
  • Fiber (14 percent of your daily value) Fiber is very important. It is digested differently than other nutrients — it remains largely unchanged until it hits the large intestine, where the intestinal flora consume it and release compounds that benefit our bodies.
  • Copper (9 percent of your daily value) Copper is a mineral crucial in developing healthy tissues, and maintaining healthy blood flow.
  • Vitamin K (32 percent of your daily value) Vitamin K is responsible for helping prevent your blood from clotting, along with ensuring your bones are strong. Those deficient in vitamin K have a higher frequency of fractures.
  • Vitamin C (19 percent of your daily value) Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps promote the immune system.

Of particular note, blueberries also contain a compound known as gallic acid. Gallic acid has been researched extensively. Strangely, though, most people — even health nuts — haven’t heard of it before. Gallic acid is one of the most powerful antifungal and antioxidant agents you can find in natural foods.

1. Blueberries can fight against aging.

Blueberries are particularly high in a certain type of antioxidant, known as proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins are known to be potent anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation is one of the most common causes of diseases, and can leads to things as simple as muscle stiffness or soreness, to fibromyalgia, diabetes, and cancer.

2. Blueberries protect you from neurodegenerative disease.

Blueberries are neuroprotective agents, largely because of their massive antioxidant content. The compound mentioned earlier — gallic acid — is of particular importance in helping improve neural function.

3. Blueberries can help fight cancer!

Some studies have determined that regular blueberry consumption can actually kill cancer cells. On top of that, it does it without harming other cells! Again, the strongest contender for its anti-cancer benefits in blueberries is gallic acid. Resveratrol is another important compound in the cancer reduction process.

4. Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other food.

That’s right. Blueberries have been studied and analyzed, and are currently rated as the food with the most antioxidants by weight. This is truly impressive — especially when you consider how amazingly delicious blueberries are.

5. Blueberries can reverse DNA damage.

Drinking whole blueberry juice, or eating the berries fresh or frozen, will decrease oxidative DNA damage.

6. Blueberries may help increase your body’s insulin sensitivity.

A 2010 study published in the Nutrition Journal observes that blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity in the obese folk who have shown to be insulin resistance. This implies that blueberry consumption can help fight against diabetes.

7. Blueberries are a vast source of cardiovascular benefits.

The many antioxidants in blueberries affect nearly every system in the body. One of the most well-studied aspects of their benefit is that which helps the cardiovascular system. Blueberries boast a truly incredible list of cardiovascular benefits — more than most other fruits and vegetables in the world. Many fruits and vegetables offer slight benefits to even more threats, but blueberries effectively fight a lot of illnesses. Blueberries improve blood fat balances, prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and help decrease, regulate blood pressure, and help the body absorb and transport nutrients from other food.

8. Blueberries have been shown to make your brain function better.

Everyone wants to have a brain that operates at its maximum efficiency. There has been a whole class of ‘smart drugs,’ also known as nootropics, which are marketed specifically with the intention to make people smarter. Some of these nootropics are based off of antioxidants — which makes the antioxidant profile of blueberries even more exciting.

Blueberries have also been shown to improve memory. A study was conducted, with a study group consuming blueberries on a daily basis, and a control group consuming a placebo berry drink. The group that consumed blueberries showed positive increases in paired associate learning and word recall.

Paired associate memory is a type of evaluation that involves the pairing of a stimulus and a response. Oftentimes, both the stimulus and the response are words. For example, the stimulus could be the word “blueberry” and the response could be “healthy.” When the subject receives the stimulus, they are evaluated on how quickly they can provide the proper response. The study also linked regular blueberry consumption to a decrease in depression.

9. Blueberries can help your body fight inflammation and related diseases.

Blueberries are shown to reduce inflammation. This is a great benefit, since many diseases are caused by inflammation and the related complications.

10. Blueberries have a significant impact on blood sugar.

Blueberries can have a huge impact on regulating blood sugar. Considering blueberries are fairly high in sugar, one might find it strange that they are considered to have a low glycemic index. (The glycemic index is a scale used to evaluate how much of an impact certain foods have on your blood sugar.) They are actually rated high on the glycemic index, but their effects on blood sugar allow them to be considered low-glycemic foods.

11. Blueberries can help your eyes function better.

The retina of the eyeball is susceptible to oxidative damage. It’s a vulnerable tissue and can be damaged easily by inflammation or infections. Retina damage means vision damage — keeping your retina healthy is crucial to maintaining your eyesight into late age.

Fortunately, blueberries are loaded with a certain type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins - a type of phytonutrient. Phytonutrients are commonly studied for their benefits in preventing eye damage. Furthermore, they seem to demonstrate some protective activity against damage done by the UV rays emitted by the sun.

One of the Healthiest Foods You Can Possibly Eat

While the range of medicinal benefits that blueberries provide may not be as vast as that of other foods, these benefits have been conclusively studied to pack a much more significant punch than that of other foods.

Adding blueberries into your diet should make you feel better. Your blood will flow better, your brain will function smoother, and your body will make better use of the other food you’re consuming.

Delicious Blueberry Sauce Recipe

Blueberry Sauce Recipe

Slather this on whatever you like. It works well as a replacement for cranberry sauce on turkey, it can be used in place of jam on toast. You can drown your pancakes with it. It even works as a topping for ice cream! Fresh or frozen blueberries make this meal equally as delicious, so you can use your stored blueberries for this one. It’s a quick prep and quick cook time, so you can’t go wrong with this one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of (fresh or frozen) blueberries
  • A quarter cup of water
  • A cup of orange juice
  • Three quarters of a cup of white sugar
  • A quarter cup of water
  • Three tablespoons of corn starch
  • Half a teaspoon of almond extract
  • An eighth teaspoon of cinnamon

Method:

  1. Grab a saucepan. Put in the blueberries, your quarter cup of water (make sure it’s cold), orange juice, and sugar. Over medium heat, stir gently until the ingredients are brought to a boil.
  2. Next, mix the cornstarch and another quarter cup of cold water in a bowl. Slowly mix this in with the blueberries, being careful not to squish them. Simmer the mixture until it’s thickened — it should stick to a metal spoon when it’s ready for the next step. That’ll take less than five minutes.
  3. Take your sauce off the element. Mix the almond extract and cinnamon in with it. If you find the sauce too thick, you can add more water.
  4. After this, your sauce is ready! You can wait for it to cool or use it as-is.

Tips for Preparing Blueberries

Here is how to store and prepare blueberries for maximum benefit:

  • Refrigerating berries will keep them safe without changing the texture or consistency like freezing them will — obviously, though, they won’t last as long.
  • Make sure you thaw frozen blueberries before using them in any recipes that call for blueberries — unless otherwise stated.
  • Berries are super fragile! Wash them, but wash them gently, and only wash them right before using them in recipes.
  • You only need to pat them dry if they are organic.
  • If you buy your blueberries fresh, there’s likely a couple that are about to go bad. Remove these ones before storing them, lest they spoil the rest of your berries.

Conclusion

Blueberries are not only a powerful source of a seemingly endless list of nutrients, they taste great too! It’s hard to believe a superfood like blueberries even exists, compared to the tart taste of other superfoods like kale. They’re much richer than goji berries, and comparable — if not better — in their medicinal value.

Common highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are available year-round, but they are best purchased between April and September. Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) pack more of a nutritional punch, but they’re not as readily available and are slightly more expensive. However, highbush blueberries are still incredibly healthy.

Anyone looking to improve their dietary health should consider adding blueberries to at least a few meals out of the week. They’ll not only help you feel better, but they’ll help your body absorb more nutrients from the other food that you eat. If you’re a health-conscious person, you’ll want to include them in your meal plan.

About The Author

Jacky Miller is a Registered Dietician based in New Zealand. She specializes in chronic conditions and, through diet and lifestyle changes, helps her patients improve their health and lead richer, more fulfilling lives. She writes regularly on health related topics for blogs, including MindBodyGreen, Jen Reviews and The Huffington Post.

Reference
  1. For further detail on this subject, visit: Jen Reviews. jenreviews.com

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