As a rule, blueberries are known for their quality to improve your vision. However, what most people don’t realise is there are numerous amounts of other beneficial effects of these incredibly nutritious berries.
Containing only 84 calories per cup, blueberries serve just the right portion of necessary vitamins and minerals for your body (1).
So, here are 10 reasons why blueberries are good for you.
1. Blueberries reduce diabetes and obesity risk
Blueberries are high in catechins, which are able to activate fat-burning genes and to assist with weight loss, and especially with belly fat loss (2). Moreover, some researchers have reported on the anti-diabetic effects of blueberry-supplemented diets.
A study at Louisiana State University found that daily consumption of whole blueberries reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes for people with a high risk of it (3).
2. Blueberries are an ideal source of antioxidants
One-cup serving of blueberries has more total antioxidant capacity (TAC) than a serving of other fruits. Such as cranberries, strawberries, plums and raspberries. These antioxidants have been linked with anti-aging, anti-cancer and heart-health benefits (7, 8, 9).
USDA scientists concluded that eating antioxidant-rich foods at every meal helps to fight oxidative stress (Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen and a biological system’s ability to immediately detoxify the reactive intermediates or repair the resulting damage). Oxidative stress also is known to be connected with chronic diseases and aging (10).
3. Blueberries improve brain health
They contain natural phytonutrients (chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants, which are responsible for colour and other organoleptic properties, such as the deep purple of blueberries and the smell of garlic) which are able to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain and save it from environmental toxins.
The recent study of ‘Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging’ showed that a blueberry-enriched antioxidant diet prevents memory loss in aged rats. Those rats given an extract of blueberries performed better skills on memory tests than animals not given the blueberries (11).
One study investigated the effects of the daily consumption of blueberries in a sample of nine older adults with early stage memory loss. After 12 weeks, their memory improved in the way that they could better recall the word-lists given to them as tasks (12).
Furthermore, eating blueberries may help the aging brain stay healthy. Several studies suggest that blueberries activate the so-called brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism, which cleans up toxic proteins connected with age-related memory loss and other mental decline (13, 14).
4. Blueberries have anti-cancer effects
They are high in ellagic acid (Ellagic acid is a natural phenol antioxidant found in numerous fruits and vegetables). Ellagic acid has an ability to slow the growth of tumors (15).
Moreover, blueberries consumption provides cell lung cancer treatment and prevents its future metastasis and metastasis (16).
Several studies have also demonstrated the quality of blueberries to reduce the risk of breast cancer and even the growth of Triple Negative Breast Cancer (a particularly aggressive and hard to treat form of breast tumor) (17, 18).
5. Blueberries provide a healthy heart
Blueberries have recently been reported to reduce atherosclerosis progression (atherosclerosis is a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol and triglyceride) (19, 20).
‘Harvard School of Public Health’ published a study in January 2013, which indicates that three or more servings of blueberries per week may decrease a woman’s risk of heart attack by as much as 33%. Researchers attributed this benefit to anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant contained in blueberries(23).
6. Blueberries improve digestion
Good intestinal microflora plays an important role in digestive health and the immune system. Researchers from the University of Milan and the University of Maine suggested that regular consumption of blueberries favorable affect the composition of the intestinal microbiota by increasing a type of bacteria called bifidobacteria (Bifidobacteria are natural inhabitants of the human gut and are known to provide protection from infection) (24).
Another study proved that six-week consumption at least of blueberries increase greatly bifidobacteria in the human gut (25).
7. Vision health
What is more, experimental and clinical studies confirmed the ability of antocyans (antocyans are major active ingredients of blueberries which are able to accelerate the regeneration of the photosensitive pigment rhodopsin and to improve nutrition of the retina) to improve vision, primarily night vision (28, 29).
8. Blueberry-enriched diets help lower blood pressure
As was said above, blueberries contain a large amount of anthocyanins. According to the study, anthocyanins in blueberries may help to allow your blood pressure to lower, or remain low. Just consuming one serving of blueberries daily could lower the risk of your high blood pressure by 30 percent (30)!
9. Blueberries helps to recover muscles after exercising
Strenuous exercise is known to cause oxidative stress. According to recent studies, the ingestion of a blueberry smoothie prior to and after exercising accelerates recovery of muscles. This ability of blueberry gives you a possibility to get more results from exercising (31, 32, 33).
10. Blueberry consumption helps to keep urinary tract healthy
Research has shown that blueberries contain extracts that have ability to prevent the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections from attaching to the urinary bladder. By eating at least one serving of blueberries per week you can avoid urinary tract infections (34).
Always remember that boiled or baked blueberries lose most of beneficial effects. So, if you are about to get full benefits, it would be better to consume them raw or quick-frozen, because raw blueberries save their vitamins and minerals most of all. Baylor College of Medicine have studied the cooking methods of blueberries and reported: “What we can say from this study is that cooking and heating, especially longer microwaving, does decrease the amount of beneficial compounds in the berries. Minimal cooking would be ideal, but there are still measurable levels of health-beneficial components in blueberries, even after a variety of preparations”. (35).
However, when it is not a season time we can substitute fresh blueberries with frozen ones, which do not lose the whole amount of vitamins. Researchers discovered no significant lowering of overall antioxidant and anthocyanin concentrations after freezing blueberries at temperatures of 0°F (-17°C) or lower.
But remember one rule, please: never microwave quick-frozen blueberries! It has detrimental effect on the antioxidant capacity, better let them defreeze naturally; just take them from deep-freezer before 3-4 hours before cooking.
If you want to try out all these benefits which are listed above by yourself, just include blueberries to your diet! Do various smoothies from quick-frozen berries or add some fresh blueberries into your desserts or oatmeal.