Those freshly-picked sweet blueberries are not only delicious but also nutritious. These exotic berries are low in calories and are often termed as a superfood. This popular summer treat is rich in antioxidants and said to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Consuming them may help reduce cancer risk, improve cardiovascular health, and lower blood pressure.
Should you include blueberries in your diet? Most definitely. In this article, we explore the health benefits of blueberries, their nutrition profile, and the risks associated with eating them. Keep reading!
8 Science-Backed Benefits Of Blueberries
1. High In Antioxidants
Blueberries are high in antioxidants that prevent or delay cell damage. They contain plant chemicals like polyphenols and flavonoids, which may help prevent chronic diseases (1). A study conducted by Cornell University (USA) found that blueberries have high cellular antioxidant activity (CAA). Thus, consuming them may decrease oxidative stress (2). They also contain flavonoids like anthocyanins (a plant compound) that may help improve the vascular system and brain function (3), (4).
Another study suggests that increased intake of antioxidant-rich foods may reduce the risk of chronic degenerative diseases (5). Pterostilbene, another antioxidant component found in blueberries, may prevent inflammation and improve diabetes (6).
2. May Help Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
The rich antioxidant profile of blueberries may help prevent carcinogenesis and cancer cell growth (7). They contain phytochemical compounds that protect the cells from chronic inflammation (8). However, sufficient human-based data is not available to prove this benefit of phytochemicals from fruits.
Consuming blueberries may also help reduce DNA damage (9). A study found that drinking blueberry juice for four weeks had a protective effect on oxidative DNA damage – a major cause of cancer (10). However, more studies need to be conducted in this area.
3. May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Research suggests that increased intake of anthocyanin-rich foods may help reduce the risk of heart attack in young women. People who ate blueberries thrice or more a week posed a lower risk in this regard (11). Consuming a cup of blueberries a day may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve heart function (12).
A study showed that eating wild blueberries for a month improves the vascular system (13). Another study conducted by the University of Arkansas (US)also found that blueberry intake may prevent cardiovascular diseases (14). However, more studies are required to prove this claim.
4. May Lower Blood Pressure
Consumption of blueberries can lower blood pressure effectively (13). A study suggests that daily blueberry intake may help reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness (15). The minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium found in blueberries may also help reduce blood pressure (16).
Moreover, daily intake of blueberry powder for six weeks was found to reduce diastolic pressure (blood pressure in arteries) (17).
5. May Improve Cognitive Performance
Supplementation of blueberry may improve memory in older people (18). It may also prevent incidences of cognitive decline and reduce depression symptoms. A study conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (US) found that the high flavonoid content of blueberries may slow down the cognitive decline rate (19).
Berry fruits also have neuroprotective effects that help improve age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive functions (20). Blueberry supplementation may also improve short-term memory conditions (21).
6. May Help Manage Diabetes
Blueberries are rich in bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. Including these compounds in your diet may lower the risk of type-2 diabetes (22).
The low glycemic index (meaning, they digest slowly) of blueberries is less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar (23). Moreover, a six-week dietary supplementation of freeze-dried whole blueberry powder was found to improve insulin sensitivity in obese and non-diabetic individuals (24).
Extracts of Canadian lowbush blueberries were also found to have anti-diabetic potential (25).
7. May Strengthen Bones
The vitamins and minerals in blueberries may help maintain bone health. They prevent the loss of collagen in the bone matrix (26). A review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that consuming blueberries may help in recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) (27). However, more studies are required to understand the benefit of blueberries in humans.
8. May Fight Urinary Tract Infections
The antibacterial effect of blueberries may help treat or prevent urinary tract infections (28). A study conducted by the University of Stirling (UK) found that drinking blueberry or cranberry juice may prevent symptomatic urinary tract infections (UTIs) (29). However, limited data is available in this regard.
Blueberries are considered to be a wonder fruit due to their impressive nutritional profile. In the next section, we discuss the nutritional breakdown of blueberries.
Blueberry Nutrition Facts
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100g of blueberries (raw) contains (30):
- Calories: 57
- Protein: 0.74g
- Fat: 0.33g
- Fiber: 2.4g
- Sugars: 9.96g
- Calcium: 6 mg
- Iron: 0.28 mg
- Magnesium: 6 mg
- Phosphorus: 77 mg
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Vitamin C: 9.7 mg
- Thiamin: 0.037 mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.124 mg
- Folate: 6 µg
Blueberries are rich in not only vitamins and minerals but also phenolic compounds. But, how do you include blueberries in your diet?
Scroll down to find out!
How To Include Blueberries In Your Diet
- Add blueberries to fruit salads.
- Add them to oatmeal or cereal.
- Toss them into pancake batter or on top of waffles.
- Incorporate them into homemade ice cream.
- Make yogurt with them.
- Freeze them with some water in ice cube trays. Use the ice cubes to make infused water. (Make sure to pop the berries in your mouth after drinking the water!)
- Make blueberry jam.
- Prepare salsa with them to use as a topping for meats.
Follow these tips to add blueberries to your diet. But, what about blueberry recipes? In the next section, we bring you three easy and delicious blueberry recipes to try at home.
Blueberry Recipes To Try Out
1. Blueberry Chia Smoothie
What You Need
- Blueberries – ½ cup
- Frozen banana – 1
- Coconut water – ¼ cup
- Peanut butter – 1 tablespoon
- Chia seeds – 1 tablespoon
- Vanilla protein powder – 1 scoop
- Kefir – ½ cup
- Pulse all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Serve immediately.
2. Blueberry Muffins
What You Need
- Blueberry – 100g
- Eggs – 2
- Honey – 4 tablespoons
- Low-fat yogurt – 150 ml
- Rapeseed oil – 50 ml
- Wholemeal flour – 200g
- Apple sauce or pureed apple – 100g
- Mashed ripe banana – 1
- Rolled oats – 50g
- Baking powder – 11/2 teaspoon
- Cinnamon – 11/2 teaspoon
- Bicarbonate of soda – 11/2 teaspoon
- Mixed seeds – 2 tablespoons
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
- Line a 12-hole muffin tray with 12 large muffin molds.
- Mix the eggs, yogurt, oil, apple sauce, banana, honey, and vanilla in a bowl.
- Mix the remaining ingredients, except the mixed seeds, in another bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix to combine.
- Mix the wet mixture with the dry mixture until you have a smooth batter. Don’t over-mix as it will make the muffins dense.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin molds. Sprinkle the extra oats and seeds on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and well-risen, and a skewer inserted to the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Remove the muffins from the oven, transfer them to a wire rack, and let them cool. Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
3. Blueberry Almond Bread
What You Need
- Fresh blueberries – 1 cup
- Flour – 2 cups
- Baking powder – 11/2 teaspoon
- Granulated sugar – 1 cup
- Melted butter – 1 stick
- Large eggs – 2
- Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
- Almond extract – 1 teaspoon
- Plain Greek yogurt – 1 cup
- Sliced almonds – ¼ cup
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, sugar, yogurt, eggs, and extracts.
- Add the salt, baking powder, and flour to the mixture.
- Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Fold the blueberries into the batter. Spray one 9” x5” bread pan with non-stick spray and pour the batter into it.
- Top the batter with sliced almonds and sprinkle extra sugar evenly over the top.
- Place the pan on the middle rack the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool.
Given their long list of health benefits, incorporating blueberries in your diet is a good idea. But, are there any side effects of eating blueberries? Keep scrolling to know more.
Risks Associated With Eating Blueberries
Consuming blueberries is generally considered safe. However, they may cause an allergic reaction in some people (31).
People who are on blood-thinners like Warfarin should avoid eating blueberries as they contain vitamin K. However, limited data is available on the side effects of blueberries.
The Bottom Line
Blueberries are highly nutritious and offer many health benefits. They are packed with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that can help treat and prevent several ailments. Their consumption may help improve cardiovascular and bone health, fight urinary tract infection, lower blood pressure, and reduce cancer risk. Their intake may also help manage diabetes. You can add them to your diet to reap their benefits. These berries add a unique taste to your favorite food items and can be eaten either fresh or frozen. However, people taking blood-thinners should avoid eating this fruit.
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- Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Functional Ingredients in Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings
- Cellular antioxidant activity of common fruits
- Procyanidin anthocyanin and chlorogenic acid contents of highbush and lowbush blueberries
- Absorption of anthocyanins from blueberries and serum antioxidant status in human subjects
- The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects
- A review of pterostilbene antioxidant activity and disease modification
- Beyond Conventional Medicine – a Look at Blueberry a Cancer-Fighting Superfruit
- Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits vegetables and food legumes: A review
- Dietary Berries and Ellagic Acid Prevent Oxidative DNA Damage and Modulate Expression of DNA Repair Genes
- Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers
- High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women
- Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome-results from a 6-month double-blind randomized controlled trial
- Circulating Anthocyanin Metabolites Mediate Vascular Benefits of Blueberries: Insights From Randomized Controlled Trials Metabolomics and Nutrigenomics
- Prevention of Atherosclerosis by Berries: The Case of Blueberries
- Daily blueberry consumption improves blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial
- Potassium Magnesium and Calcium: Their Role in Both the Cause and Treatment of Hypertension
- Six weeks daily ingestion of whole blueberry powder increases natural killer cell counts and reduces arterial stiffness in sedentary males and females
- Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults
- Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline
- Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases
- The effects of acute wild blueberry supplementation on the cognition of 7-10-year-old schoolchildren
- Blueberries’ Impact on Insulin Resistance and Glucose Intolerance
- Postprandial Effects of Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) Consumption on Glucose Metabolism Gastrointestinal Hormone Response and Perceived Appetite in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial
- Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Insulin-Resistant Men and Women
- Fermented Canadian lowbush blueberry juice stimulates glucose uptake and AMP-activated protein kinase in insulin-sensitive cultured muscle cells and adipocytes
- Blueberry consumption prevents loss of collagen in bone matrix and inhibits senescence pathways in osteoblastic cells
- Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage
- Anti-Escherichia Coli Adhesin Activity of Cranberry and Blueberry Juices
- A systematic review of the evidence for cranberries and blueberries in UTI prevention
- Blueberries raw
- Prevalence of blueberry allergy in a Turkish population