Health Benefits Of Blueberries: 11 Reasons Why You Should Stock Up On This Superfood

health benefits of blueberries.

Featuring in smoothie bowls, oatmeal, muffins, cookies, sandwiches, and even pies, blueberries are every food enthusiast’s delight. And if their deliciousness and versatility don’t drive you to your nearest grocery store, then their nutritional quality will. So we’ve put together a list of health benefits that come with a handful of these humble berries.

1. Lowers Blood Pressure

Individuals with high blood pressure would benefit from snacking on a handful of blueberries every now and then. Diets that are low in nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium (which are found in blueberries) have been found to increase blood pressure. Regular consumption of blueberries, hence, can aid in meeting the daily dietary requirement and managing blood pressure levels.1

In line with this, studies have found that consuming 50 grams of blueberries every day can lead to a 4–6% reduction in blood pressure in obese individuals.2 Similar results were found in post-menopausal women.3 This, in turn, prevents arterial stiffness and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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id="2">2. Promotes Heart Health

Studies indicate that consuming 50 grams of blueberries every day for eight weeks can lower LDL oxidation by 27% in obese individuals.4 Alternatively consuming 75 grams of the berries with a high-carb, low-fat breakfast can also significantly lower LDL oxidation.5

With

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heart disease being the leading cause of death in the world, loading up on foods that keep the disorder away is wise, especially if you have a history of it in your family.6 Besides the fact that blueberries lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, studies have found that flavonoid-rich foods, like blueberries, improved general heart health. The B vitamins found in blueberries, in particular, prevent the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, whose buildup is linked to damaged blood vessels and heart problems.7

In addition to this, blueberries may also inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a process in which LDL cholesterol particles in the body react with free radicals (unstable molecules that are products of metabolism, a disease, or exposure to toxins).8 LDL oxidation increases the risk of and is often the first step in the progression of, coronary heart disease. One study found that young and middle-aged women who had a higher intake of anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that give blueberries their color, had a 32% lowered risk of heart attacks.9 That said, considering the fact that the study was observational, it can’t be determined for certain whether the anthocyanins alone reduced this risk.

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id="3">3. Improves Brain Function And Health

Each cup of blueberries packs in10:

  • Vitamin K: 0.0286 mg (23.8% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 14 mg (16% DV)
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  • Vitamin E: 0.84 mg (5.6 DV)
  • Vitamin B1: 0.055 mg (4.6% DV)
  • Vitamin B2: 0.061 mg (4.7% DV)
  • Vitamin B3: 0.619 mg (3.9% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.077 mg (4.5% DV)
  • Vitamin B9: 0.009 (2.3% DV)
  • Vitamin A (beta-carotene): 0.024 mg (1.6 DV)
  • Potassium: 114 mg (2.43% DV)
  • Iron: 0.41 mg (2.3% DV)
  • Zinc: 0.24 mg (2.2% DV)
  • Magnesium: 9 mg (2.1% DV)
  • Phosphorus 18 mg (1.4% DV)
  • Calcium 9 mg (0.7% DV)

Blueberries can be a fun and delicious way to give your brain function a boost. Here are a few aspects of cognition and brain functioning that they benefit:

Memory

Blueberries fight age-related decline in memory. In fact, studies have found that blueberry consumption has a noticeable impact on short-term memory and improves long-term reference memory after just eight weeks of supplementation.11 Subjects of most of these studies were older adults with early memory decline and an increased risk of dementia.12 In addition to this, even on a short-term consumption basis, the blueberry-enriched diet prevented and reversed object recognition memory loss in aging rats.13 Besides this, high intake of polyphenol, an antioxidant found in blueberries, is also linked to better language and verbal memory as well as learning. As a result, the superfruit may also fight and prevent Alzheimer’s disease by improving memory, improving access to words and concepts along with boosting cognitive performance and brain function.14

Decision making

If you’ve been growing more indecisive with each passing year, blueberries might help. Studies have found that rats that rats fed with a two percent blueberry diet for three weeks took less time in decision making when presented with a choice than the ones who weren’t.15

Motor
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function and spatial memory

Blueberries can enhance your sense of navigation and direction. If research is to be believed, the phytochemicals and flavonoids in foods like blueberries help in reversing age-related deficits in motor function and spatial working memory. In an animal study, scientists demonstrated that aged rats fed with a two percent blueberry diet for three weeks exhibited a marked improvement in spatial working memory.16

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id="4">4. Maintains Bone Health

Blueberries contain nutrients like iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc which are required to build and maintain bone structure and strength. They also contain iron and zinc which play a crucial role in maintaining the strength, integrity, and elasticity of bones and joints.

In addition to this, blueberries also contain calcium, which is vital for bone strength. The vitamin K in these berries improve calcium absorption and prevent bone fractures.17

5. Improves Skin Health And Prevents Skin Aging

The vitamin C in blueberries stimulates collagen synthesis. And since collagen is the support system of the skin, consuming enough of the vitamin can reduce skin damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. In addition to this, it may also improve collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and improve skin texture.18

In addition to this, resveratrol found in dark colored foods, such as blueberries, may help slow down the signs of aging on the body and skin. Some evidence suggests that it may also be able to help prevent skin cancer formation. However, further research is required to fully confirm this.19

6. May Aid In The Management Of Diabetes

Blueberries pack in a lot of fiber, 3.6 cups per cup to be precise, which has been linked to low blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetics, it can improve blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.20 In addition to this, one large study found that consuming 3 servings per week of blueberries reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 percent.21

7. Improves Symptoms Of Depression

Another perk of consuming blueberries for brain health is that it keeps depression at bay. According to a study, blueberries definitely have a role to play in easing depression in older adults. After supplementing their diet with wild blueberry juice for 12 weeks, older adults showed diminished depressive symptoms.22 This could be attributed to polyphenol in blueberries, which has been found to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant-like effects.23

8. Is A Good Diet Food And Prevents Weight Gain

If you’re on a diet, blueberries serve as a good snack. They are about 85% water, so an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates. To sweeten things further, they provide for a chock full of nutrients in just that amount.24

In addition to this, consuming flavonoids has been linked to a reduced incidence of weight gain, when consumed regularly for over 24 years. By consuming half a cup of blueberries every day, you get 121 mg of anthocyanins (flavonoids) into your body – an easy way to up your intake of these.25

Blueberries also help prevent the accumulation of fats, reducing obesity linked to the intake of a high-fat or high-cholesterol diet.26

9. May Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can be painful and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they’re also common in women. Studies have found that blueberries, like the popular UTI cure cranberries, contain anti-adhesives, which prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of your bladder. Consuming them regularly may help prevent UTIs.27

10. May Aid Muscle Recovery Post Workout

If your workout routine has your muscles feeling like they’re going to fall apart, blueberries might come to your rescue. One study has found that blueberries accelerated muscle recovery and reduced muscle soreness and fatigue in female athletes after strenuous leg exercises. Blueberries do this by reducing oxidative stress and local inflammation in the muscle tissue.28

11. May Alleviate The Symptoms Of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) calls for lifestyle changes, including increasing activity levels, weight loss, and cutting smoking. And often, medications for the condition result in depression. Considering the fact that blueberries fight oxidative damage, relieve depression symptoms, and prevent weight gain, they’re valuable addition to your arsenal against ED. In addition to this, studies have found that flavonoids can improve erectile function, possibly by preventing the incidence of cardiovascular disease.29 That said, they don’t offer any quick, immediate solutions.

Be Sure To Select And Store Your Blueberries With Care

Blueberries are in season between July–September, so that’s your window for the freshest produce. When at the grocery store, steer clear of blueberries that look dull or too soft or squishy. Check the container for bluish stains or juices which could indicate bruised or damaged berries. Fresh blueberries will feel firm to the touch and have a plump appearance with a dark blue, velvety color. A silvery or waxy sheen on blueberries is normal.

You can store fresh blueberries in the container they are sold in. Fresh blueberries are perishable so stick them in the fridge as soon as you get home. Don’t wash them before refrigerating. Blueberries will keep best in the vegetable crisper drawer where they will last 3–5 days. When you’re ready to eat them, simply rinse them (gently) in cold water and drain. There is no need to soak berries in water to clean them. That’s it! You are ready to toss them into your favorite recipe or simply eat them as a healthy snack.

If you buy frozen blueberries, make sure to store them in the freezer either in their original packaging or in plastic freezer bags. Just in case you’re wondering, frozen blueberries are just as nutritious as fresh ones. Researchers at South Dakota State University found that freezing blueberries actually helps maintain its antioxidant properties by better preserving the anthocyanin content.30

Opt For “Naked” Blueberries In Your Diet 3 Times Per Week

Blueberries are versatile little fruits and there are dozens of ways to incorporate them into your daily diet. Toss fresh (washed) blueberries into salads and smoothies. You can add them to your bowl of cereal or your recipe for homemade granola. Be wary that pies and cakes don’t always count since they contain too much fat and sugar. Opt for “naked” berries over desserts with them whenever you can.31

Eating Too Many Blueberries Can Be Bad For You

The USDA recommends most adults on a 2000 Cal diet to consume 2 servings of fruit daily.32 So a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or about 4 oz juice is the common daily serving size. Consuming more than this amount, say a little more than a cup, doesn’t affect a normal healthy adult, especially if it is spread through the day. However, since this is not the only food you will be eating in a day and ideal portion sizes differ with each person, some side effects that may occur are:

  • Digestive issues: The high-fiber content of blueberries may cause bloating, stomachache, or diarrhea, especially in people with naturally high-fiber diets. Digestive issues due to this berry are more prominent in people who already have digestive diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or fructose malabsorption.
  • Increased bleeding: Consult a professional before consuming blueberries if you’re on blood-thinning medicines like warfarin or anti-platelet drugs like clopidogrel, since the salicylates in blueberry may increase blood thinning.33
  • Lowered blood glucose: While blueberries can reduce blood glucose spikes after a carb-rich meal by blocking the function of certain digestive enzymes and slow down protein digestion, if you’re a diabetic, be sure to consume these berries in moderation so as to avoid a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels.34
  • Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to aspirin, you could be allergic to blueberries, thanks to the salicylates. Every 100 g blueberries (all types of berries in fact) has 27.6 mg salicylates, which can be considered a concerning amount for people with salicylate intolerance. The allergy manifests as wheezing, asthma, rashes, or stomach pain.35

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