Without a doubt, blueberries are one of the most popular fruits around. In fact, in the United States, it is ranked as second place after strawberries in the popularity department. This isn’t surprising as these well-loved berries have a tart sweet-and-sour taste that you just can’t get enough of.
Blueberries are perennial flowering plants. Most berries carry an indigo hue. These plants are native to North America, specifically in Michigan, Oregon, California, Washington, and New Jersey. But really, blueberry bushes can pop up literally anywhere in the country.
There are a ton of ways you can enjoy blueberries. You can eat them as is (make sure to wash them thoroughly first). You can also enjoy them as jams, jellies, purée, juice, even as wine.
Nutrition Content of Blueberries
Blueberries, and all kinds of berries in general, are known to have high antioxidant content. For the vitamins, they contain vitamins C, E, and K. They also have vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 (pyridoxine). For their mineral content, blueberries possess iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc.
Aside from that, they also have fiber, protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates. There are also beneficial plant compounds in blueberries, such as anthocyanins, quercetin, and myricetin. And take note, this berry only has a small amount of calories.
Benefits of Blueberries
A lot of people boast of the health benefits blueberries can give. And they weren’t kidding. Blueberries are one of the go-to ingredients in making super healthy smoothies. This is because of the numerous benefits they have. Here are some example of the positive effects blueberries can have on your body.
Vitamin C in blueberries makes sure the body produces a good amount of collagen. Collagen prevents damage caused by pollution, smoke, and even the sun. It has the ability to smooth wrinkles and improve the skin’s overall texture.
Other blueberry components ensure hormone balance, which in turn prevents acne. The resveratrol content also reduces damage from too much sun exposure and can stop the darkening of the skin.
You can also lather a blueberry scrub all over your body for smoother, softer, brighter, and healthy skin.
Eating blueberries can prevent many disorders that can eventually lead to impaired vision or blindness.
The anthocyanins in blueberries play a major role in this department. They slow down visual loss. They also prevent many age-related ocular issues. These include macular degeneration, myopia, cataracts, hypermetropia, dryness, and eye infections.
Next, the vitamin C content reduces the likelihood of intraocular pressure. This then decreases the possibility of glaucoma. And FYI, glaucoma, which refers to varied eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, is one of the causes of blindness. Also, this vitamin maintains connective tissues in the eye.
And finally, zinc protects the eyes against night blindness. This means it helps you see better in dark conditions.
The regular consumption of this superfood reduces the risk of cognitive decline. It also fights against Parkinson’s disease. This is a neurodegenerative disorder that results from cell death in different parts of the brain.
Blueberries also improve short-term memory loss and motor coordination. In addition, these berries fight against oxidative stress. This kind of stress speeds up the brain’s aging process and has negative effects on brain function. The components in blueberries interact with aging neurons and show significant improvement in cell signalling.
Since these berries are a natural source of soluble and insoluble fiber, they regulate the gastrointestinal tract. According to researcher Vivian Chi-Hua Wu from the University of Maine, blueberries “alter the balance of gut microbe in favor of members of the Actinobacteria phylum.” She and her team show that these berries have prebiotic potential. That means they promote the growth of good bacteria in the colon and ensures a healthy digestive system. That means goodbye to bloating, excess gas, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues.
Fiber is an essential component for healthy weight loss. That’s why blueberries are great snack and smoothie options for those who wish to lose that muffin top. Fiber increases satiety. That means it makes you feel full for a longer period of time. It also reduces your appetite, making you lower your overall calorie intake.
Want another reason to eat more blueberries? Let me give you two. They’re low in calories and also low on the glycemic index. Foods that are low in the glycemic index are absorbed more slowly, so they stay in the digestive tract longer. Thus the name slow carbs. Because they stay in the tract longer, they control appetite and delay hunger cues.
Muscle Damage Reduction
For those who like to hit the gym, this superfood is your best friend. Exercising too much leads to muscle soreness and fatigue. Blueberries reduce the damage that happens at the molecular level. This minimizes the soreness and reduction in muscle performance. In a study involving 10 female athletes, the berries accelerate muscle recovery after strenuous leg exercises.
Strong Immune System
Blueberries are one of the foods with the highest antioxidant content in the world. Antioxidants are very helpful as they protect our bodies from harmful free radicals that cause damage. Antioxidants build up the immune system and increase the production of hemoglobin and oxygen concentration in the blood. A strong immune system makes sure you won’t easily catch the common cold, cough, fever, pox, and all kinds of illnesses and diseases.
The components in this berry build and maintain bone structure and strength. The iron and zinc content maintain the strength and elasticity of bones and joints. Vitamin K improves calcium absorption and reduces calcium loss.
Blueberries lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. These berries also reduce the risk of heart attacks. In addition, they lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and raise HDL “good” cholesterol. All these decrease the risk of heart disease. And finally, this superfood strengthens the cardiac muscles, making sure your heart functions for a long time.
The regular consumption of blueberries lower blood glucose levels. Patients with type 2 diabetics also have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. The anthocyanins in these berries have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
The antioxidant content in this superfood, specifically gallic acid, attacks cancer-causing free radicals and also inhibits tumor growth. This berry is effective in fighting against esophageal cancer, mouth cancer, lung cancer, pharynx cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.
The folate content also helps. It plays a role in DNA production and repair. This then prevents the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.