6 Impressive Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries burst with flavor and good health. They even came out on top for antioxidant activity when more than 40 commercially available fruits were tested. The dark blue pigment found in blueberries contains phenols called anthocyanins (flavonoids with powerful antioxidant capabilities). Consequently, they have many health benefits, so try to enjoy 3 or 4 cups of blueberries every week.

Health benefits of blueberries

Blueberries are a significant source of vitamin C, manganese (an essential trace mineral important for many chemical reactions in your body), and fiber. Plus, like many superfood fruits, they’re low in calories.

One cup of blueberries contains 14 milligrams of vitamin C, half a milligram of manganese, 4 grams of fiber, and only 84 calories. Blueberries help your body in several ways:

1. Keep your heart healthy

The anthocyanins keep your blood vessels strong. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the darker pigments in blueberries may lower cholesterol.

Several studies have found a link between berries — or flavonoid-rich foods — and better heart health.

According to some research, blueberries may have significant health benefits for people who have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

These berries may also inhibit the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is a critical step in the development of heart disease.

Anthocyanin consumption was linked to a 32% lower risk of heart attacks in an observational study of 93,600 nurses.

2. Help prevent cancer

According to research published in 2008 in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, antioxidants in blueberries may help to prevent colon cancer and ovarian cancer by promoting anti-cancer activity in your cells.

3. Keep your vision clear

Blueberries contain natural compounds related to vitamin A called lutein that promote healthy night vision and prevent macular degeneration (an age-related eye disease that’s the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly). The Age-Related Eye Disease Study conducted by the National Eye Institute in 2001 confirmed the effectiveness of lutein and other antioxidants.

4. Keep your mind sharp

According to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, a substance in blueberries (as well as other berries) may help to protect you from some of the deleterious effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

As the global population of people over the age of 65 grows, so will the prevalence of age-related conditions and diseases.

Interestingly, eating more flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries has been linked to improved brain function.

Eating blueberries may help to prevent oxidative stress, which is linked to the aging process.

These berries may also directly improve brain function. Drinking blueberry juice daily improved memory in 9 older adults with early memory decline in a 12-week study.

Another six-year study of older adults discovered that eating blueberries and strawberries could delay brain aging by up to two and a half years.

5. Prevent urinary tract infections

The natural compounds in blueberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder, which prevents urinary tract infections.

Blueberry contains similar constituents as cranberry, and might also prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary bladder. However, studies have not yet been done to determine if blueberry can help prevent bladder infections.

6. Help with blood sugar control

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common all over the world.

Diabetes patients are sensitive to rapid changes in blood sugar and must exercise caution when eating carbohydrate-rich foods.

Blueberries contain moderate amounts of sugar — or 15 grams per cup (148 grams).

They do not, however, have any negative effects on blood sugar levels, which may be due to their high content of bioactive compounds.

Blueberry anthocyanins may help control blood sugar levels, according to laboratory studies.

Human studies have also yielded promising results.

Two blueberry smoothies daily helped improve insulin sensitivity in obese people at high risk of developing diabetes, according to a six-week study.

Blueberries may also have an immediate effect on blood sugar levels after a high-carb meal by inhibiting certain digestive enzymes and lowering blood sugar spikes.

How to buy, pack away, and prepare blueberries

Blueberries are usually easy to find in both the produce and freezer sections at your grocery store. Blueberries freeze very well, and they’re good for you whether fresh or frozen.

During the summer months, you may be able to buy big, beautiful blueberries at farmers’ markets, or you may find farms where you can pick your own.

Selecting blueberries is easy. Look for berries that are deep blue with little to no trace of green coloring; unlike many fruits, blueberries don’t continue to ripen after they’re picked. Healthy blueberries should be firm with a slight shimmer to the skin, and there should be no sign of mold.

Keep blueberries in your refrigerator. Don’t wash them until you want to use them, because moisture hastens deterioration. Blueberries are delicate and quite perishable, so eat them within a few days or freeze them.

Blueberries freeze very well when you put them in sturdy plastic containers. Again, don’t wash the berries before you freeze them because the water on the skins will make them tough. Instead, rinse the berries after they thaw.

Whether fresh or frozen, you can easily incorporate blueberries into your superfoods diet. Traditional uses of blueberries include baked goods such as pancakes and muffins because blueberries hold up well to heat.

If you buy premade baked goods, be sure they contain real blueberries, not the little blueberry-flavored sugar blobs commonly found in cheap baked goods.

Sprinkle some berries on your whole-grain cereal or oatmeal in the morning, or enjoy a bowl of blueberries with a little milk or cream and a few walnuts for breakfast.

Thawed berries can be used just like fresh ones. You can even add frozen blueberries and banana chunks, along with pomegranate or other juice, to your blender to make a tasty fruit smoothie.

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