What makes blueberry nutrition so amazing? Beyond being recommended as part of almost any diet, the health benefits of blueberries are astounding. One serving of these tiny, tasty berries can deliver nutrients, support weight loss, and guard against cancer and chronic disease.
Keep reading for the top 10 blueberry health benefits, plus the best blueberry recipes.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
While the health benefits of blueberries are nearly endless, here are 10 major advantages of adding blueberries to your diet along with other fruits and vegetable varieties.
1. Antioxidant Content
Rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant and micronutrient naturally occurring in plants, blueberries are tied to significant health benefits. Polyphenols are linked to incredible health benefits, like delaying degenerative disease and reducing the effect of chronic health conditions.
The polyphenols in blueberries have even been suggested to affect the aging process in a positive way.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Largely due to their antioxidant content, blueberries help fight free radicals and inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a sort of stress put on the body, and blueberries help contribute antioxidant chemicals to the diet that help alleviate this internal stress.
In very simple terms, blueberries help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by inflammation.
3. Abundant Phytochemicals
Blueberries contain a high level of compounds called phytochemicals. The most abundant of these chemicals is called anthocyanin, the pigment that colors the blue tint to berries.
When consumed regularly, these potent phytochemicals—especially anthocyanins—in blueberries are associated with many health benefits such as:
• Reduced risk heart disease
• Reduced risk death
• Reduced risk type 2 diabetes
• Improved weight maintenance
• Improved neuroprotection
4. Fiber-Fueled & Gut Flora-Focused
The benefits of blueberries are not limited to heart health and inflammation, however. Recent research shows that the phytochemicals in blueberries may have a positive effect on your gastrointestinal microbiome (gut), contributing to overall digestive health.
Blueberries are also relatively high in fiber, which can help contribute to bowel regularity. Just one cup offers nearly 4 grams of fiber.
5. Low Calorie & Nutrient-Rich
Blueberries have also been used as a means to lose weight. They are naturally high in beneficial vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients while staying low in calories.
One cup of blueberries contains about 80 calories, making them an ideal snack for sustaining a healthy weight.
6. Naturally Sweet
In addition to being low calorie, blueberries also taste naturally sweet! Some like to freeze blueberries and enjoy as a sweet, frozen dessert in the summer (their peak season). B
lueberries contain almost no fat and just natural sugars, so it is a sweet snack you can feel good about.
7. Brain Health
Did you know that the smoke from dried blueberry flowers was once used as a treatment for insanity? While this practice is not recommended today, it shows just how powerful for brain health blueberry plants are thought to be.
Today, diets characterized as high in antioxidants are being linked in scientific studies to improved cognitive function and delay of neurodegeneration. Diets like the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet use blueberries as a key component. Growing data helps prove just how powerful blueberries are in protecting brain health.
8. Cancer Protection
A recent study examined the effect of blueberries on cancer cells. The results suggest that blueberries at peak season may be a novel type of cancer protection. Researchers found compounds in blueberries acted in a chemoprotective way, showing that they could be protective against breast cancers and other cancers (especially in the beginning stages).
While more research is needed, there is mounting evidence supporting that blueberries protect against cancer. In general, increased intake of fruits and vegetables is tied to better chances of survival among cancer patients. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to add blueberries to your diet, especially if you are concerned about cancer.
9. Skin Care & Health
Interested in enhancing your skincare routine? Try adding a cup of blueberries to your diet. They are high in vitamin C, a nutrient crucial to collagen production and keeping your skin feeling fresh.
Blueberries also add to hydration levels, which is important for vibrant skin.
Blueberries, thanks to antioxidant content, have amazing anti-inflammatory effects. They can be beneficial to the body by helping to fortify vascular health and regulate blood sugar levels.
These functions help guard against some of the most common diseases, potentially adding years to your life.
How to Pick the Best Berries
At their nutritional peak from May to August, look for fresh blueberries in your local store or farmer’s market around late spring to early fall. You’ve probably noticed that blueberries can be both tart and sweet, so shopping in season may ensure a sweeter flavor profile.
Size can vary from small berries (usually a wild variety) to larger, plump, and juicer berries (more cultivated varieties). What is best for you is often left to personal preference!
Taste-wise, try to look for firm, dry, and plump berries that aren’t shriveled. As always, you’ll want to eye your blueberries for mold before buying and avoid any spoiled product. Blueberries should be a blueish-purple color, with red or green hues signifying an underripe variety.
Top Blueberry Recipes
Where to start with all these wonderful benefits? Blueberries can be added to any meal, but below offer some popular ways to mix them in!
Mixed Berry Crepes
Crepes couldn’t be easier to whip up. They contain kitchen staples that make for a tasty breakfast or snack. Add blueberries (and any other berries you have on hand) to a mixed berry crepe recipe for extra fun.
Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie
Looking to take blueberries on the go? A blueberry smoothie can make your morning meal easier to digest as you go about your busy morning.
You can also turn your smoothie into a smoothie bowl and top it with even more blueberries, granola, and other exciting toppings.
Blueberry Overnight Oats
Searching for something even more low maintenance? Overnight oats are the answer. Whether mixing in and letting them rest overnight or adding to the top, blueberries are sure to be a healthful addition to this fiber-fueled meal.
The Bottom Line on Blueberry Nutrition
Not many foods are blue, and blueberries are certainly unique. From the pigment that colors them to the chemicals inside, it seems nearly every compound in blueberries has a purpose for your health.
Explore how to add blueberries to your favorite recipes today. Balanced with other healthy lifestyle practices, eating blueberries may actually add years to your life!
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