Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are named for their color. Because of their sweet and tart flavor and their nearly seedless nature, blueberries are a hugely popular fruit. 

For centuries, people could only grow and harvest blueberries in small numbers. However, at the turn of the 20th century, they were domesticated and brought to the national market. Blueberries can now be eaten all year long as healthy, nutritious treats. 

Health Benefits

Blueberries contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide notable health benefits. For example, blueberries are rich in vitamin K, which plays an important role in promoting heart health. The vitamin is also important to bone health and blood clotting.

Other health benefits of blueberries include:

Higher antioxidant levels

Blueberries are one of the best natural sources of antioxidants. While antioxidants aren’t necessary for your body to function, they help protect your body from damage by free radicals. Your cells produce free radicals as waste products, but these particles can go on to hurt other cells. Eating blueberries regularly for just two weeks can help reduce damage to your cells by as much as 20%. 

Better cholesterol levels

High cholesterol is dangerous for your heart because it can build up in your arteries. The cholesterol that builds up eventually gets oxidized, and this damages your body if it happens in large amounts. Antioxidants in blueberries help prevent cholesterol in your blood from being oxidized and may even help keep cholesterol from building up in the first place.

Manage high blood pressure

Eating blueberries regularly can help reduce high blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome and protect cardiovascular health. The current hypothesis is that blueberries help the body produce more nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure inside blood vessels and helps with smooth muscle relaxation.

Control diabetes

Blueberries can help people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that eating blueberries regularly can help improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. Blueberries can also help reduce fasting blood sugar levels by nearly a third in people with type 2 diabetes, helping them to manage their blood sugar levels more effectively.

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Nutrients per Serving

A half-cup serving of blueberries contains:

Blueberries contain dietary fiber, which helps your digestive system run smoothly. The fruit is also an excellent source of:

Blueberries contain a significant amount of anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins are responsible for blueberry juice’s rich purple color and have shown promise in helping to reduce signs of aging, risk of cancer, and damage to DNA. Blueberries also appear to have the highest levels of antioxidants out of any common fruit or vegetable.

How to Prepare Blueberries

Blueberries are native to temperate parts of North America. They are traditionally in season from April to September in the US, but are sold year-round as imports from South America. These tasty berries can be found in supermarkets, health food stores, and farmers’ markets around the country.

Blueberries bring a mild, sweet flavor that’s perfect for baked goods and desserts. You can also enjoy raw blueberries by themselves as simple healthy snacks. Blueberries last longer if they’re refrigerated or frozen, and they can be added in fresh or frozen form to most recipes with similar results.

Here are some suggestions for how to add blueberries to your daily diet:

  • Eat blueberries raw as a snack.
  • Bake a blueberry pie.
  • Add blueberries to smoothies.
  • Make blueberry juice.
  • Include blueberries in pancakes.
  • Dry blueberries for a raisin-like treat.
  • Make a blueberry gazpacho.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 31, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Blueberry Council: “Blueberry Season.”

Blueberry Council: “History of Blueberries.”

British Journal of Nutrition: “Consumption of blueberries with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat breakfast decreases postprandial serum markers of oxidation.”

Carcinogenesis: “Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Georgian Medical News: “Effect of Blueberin on fasting glucose, C-reactive protein and plasma aminotransferases, in female volunteers with diabetes type 2: double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study.”

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States.”

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “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.”

Journal of Nutrition: “Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin K.”

Nutrients: “Polyphenols: Benefits to the Cardiovascular System in Health and in Aging.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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