Blueberries are tiny edible berries that come from a perennial flowering shrub. Also known as Vaccinium corymbosum, they are quite related to cranberries, bilberries, and gooseberries.
Blueberries are highly nutritious that makes them one of the superfoods. They are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Anthocyanin, an antioxidant that possesses powerful health benefits. It’s also responsible for the fruit’s dark blue color. Compared to other foods, blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants.
This article looks into the potential health benefits, types, and uses of blueberries.
Types of Blueberries
There are five types of blueberries, including:
- Southern highbush
- Northern Highbush
Properties and Nutrition Facts of Blueberries
Blueberries have a high amount of fiber and low calories. These fruits are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, Vitamin K, folate, copper, potassium, and manganese.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup (100g) blueberries contains approximately:
- Water: 84.21 g
- Energy: 57 kcal
- Protein: 0.74 g
- Fat: 0.33 g
- Carbohydrate: 14.49 g
- Dietary fiber: 2.4 g
- Sugar: 9.96 g
- Iron: 0.28 g
- Calcium: 6 mg
- Magnesium: 6 mg
- Potassium: 77 mg
- Phosphorus: 12 mg
- Zinc: 0.16 mg
- Vitamin C: 9.7 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.05 mg
- Vitamin K: 19.3 µg
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Here’s are some potential health benefits of blueberries:
1. Blueberries Can Prevent Cancer.
As a high source of antioxidants, blueberries can reduce oxidative stress and DNA damage that can lead to cancer.
A report published in the Cancer Research Journal states that blueberries are rich in anti-cancer properties.
The study also suggests that oral consumption could help in long-term cancer prevention.
American researchers published a study in the Nutrition and Cancer journal. They state that blueberries have properties like pterostilbene and ellagic acid that can treat liver and colon cancer.
Besides, blueberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants like anthocyanin that can prevent cancer.
2. They May Promote Healthy Heart.
The dietary fiber and nutrients found in blueberries can reduce cholesterol and prevent clogging of arteries. They help prevent heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and strokes.
According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, blueberries could successfully reduce cardiovascular risk factors in obese patients with metabolic syndrome.
another 2013 study states that anthocyanin might prevent heart attack in young and middle-aged women.
Vitamin B6 and folate found in blueberries can reduce the risk of blood vessel damage.
3. Blueberries Can Treat Diabetes.
The bioactive components found in blueberries are quite helpful in controlling blood sugar.
The juice and extract of blueberries can improve insulin sensitivities.
Research published in 2013 shows regular intake of blueberries may lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.
In a clinical trial published in The Journal of Nutrition 32 obese people with insulin sensitivity participated. One group received smoothies with blueberry bioactives, while the other group was given a placebo twice a day.
After six weeks of trial, those who received blueberries showed major improvement in insulin sensitivity.
4. They May Improve Brain Function.
Oxidative stress can hamper your brain function by speeding up its aging process.
In an animal study published in the Neural Regeneration Research shows that blueberries have neuroprotective effects that can prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
The research also suggests that blueberries can improve cognitive and motor functions.
Nine adults with mild cognitive impairment attended in a clinical trial. They consumed blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks.
Results show those who consumed blueberry juice had improvement in various markers of brain function.
Regular intake of blueberries may heal your damaged brain cells and keep your memory sharp.
5. Blueberries May Fight Urinary Tract Infection.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common problem among women that is caused due to E.coli bacteria.
Blueberries have substances called anti-adhesive that can kill bacteria like E.coli.
Studies show the proven effects of cranberries in preventing UTI. Although the effects of blueberry in preventing UTI was rarely showed in any study, this fruit has similar effects like cranberry.
6. They Can Soothe Inflammation.
Regular consumption of blueberries may reduce inflammation, thanks to antioxidants they contain.
According to the research published in The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, blueberries contain anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive components that help treat any inflammatory disorders.
Another 2014 study confirms the anti-inflammatory activities of blueberries.
7. Blueberries May Aid in Weight Loss.
Blueberries are a high source of dietary fiber that aid in digestion and weight loss. They can reduce belly fat and help you feel full.
A 2013 study shows blueberry and mulberry juice could prevent obesity in mice.
As blueberries are low in carbohydrates and calories, they can be a great choice as a low-calorie snack.
8. They Help Strengthen Bones.
Blueberries are rich in vitamins and minerals that help promote healthy bone.
These fruits contain iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and vitamin K that are vital to strengthening bones.
They can also increase the bone elasticity and density, and help maintain proper bone structure.
9. Blueberries Can Reduce Muscle Damage.
Heavy exercise may lead to muscle damage and fatigue. It’s because of the oxidative stress and inflammation your body experience due to the exercise.
Blueberries may minimize the soreness and reduce muscle performance, lowering the damage that happens at a molecular level.
In a study published in 2012, blueberry accelerated muscle recovery in female athletes after strenuous leg exercises.
10. They May Alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Blueberries, when consumed with probiotics, show powerful anti-inflammatory effects. These fruits may treat irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Chron’s disease.
According to the research published in 2009, blueberry husks and probiotics could affect colonic fermentation in rats.
Another study published in 2009 proves the efficacy of blueberry in reducing the severity of colitis.
Besides, blueberry can reduce pain and bleeding due to ulcerative colitis.
11. Blueberries Can Promote Healthy Skin & Hair.
The abundance of vitamin C in blueberries plays a big role in building collagen. It can prevent acne, wrinkles, and age spots.
According to a report published in 2017, vitamin C can stimulate collagen synthesis and provide your skin with antioxidant protection against UV rays.
Besides, the nutrients found in blueberries may help keep your scalp healthy and promote hair growth.
How to Consume Blueberries
There are several ways to eat blueberries. You can directly eat them as snacks or add them to any food like salads, oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurts to bring a sweet-tart taste. You can also add some blueberries in smoothies to make a healthy drink.
Side Effects of Blueberries
While packed with healthy nutrients, blueberries also have a few side effects, including:
- The vitamin K in blueberries may interfere with the blood-thinning effects of some medications and cause a blood clot. If you are having blood thinning medications, try to avoid eating blueberries.
- Some people may have an allergic reaction like itching, swelling, and trouble breathing after consuming blueberries.
- If you’re taking medications for diabetes, ask your doctor if you can have blueberries. It’s because these fruits can lower blood glucose levels and may react with your medicines.
Blueberries are extremely nutritious and healthy. Due to the high amount of antioxidant properties, blueberries are considered as the king of antioxidants.
An interesting fact about blueberry is that the darker the color the richer it is in antioxidants and other nutrients.
Always pick the firm fresh blueberries as they last longer. Eat them separately or add them to other foods to live a healthy and longer life.