Vitamins in blueberries nutrition

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Everything you need to know about blueberries

Share on PinterestBlueberries are a nutritious, delicious berry that can be used in a variety of meals.

A type of flavonoid called anthocyanin gives blueberries many of their health benefits. Flavonoids are plant compounds that often have a powerful antioxidant effect.

Anthocyanin is responsible for the blueberry’s characteristic blue color. It also contributes to the numerous advantages of blueberries.

Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods such as blueberries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality. Plant foods may also promote hair and skin health, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Freezing blueberries is often discussed by experts. It is often said that the freezing process can diminish the potency of the blueberry’s health benefits. One study showed that over the course of 6 months in storage, the anthocyanin degraded by 59 percent.

However, this is not confirmed, and different sources take different stances on whether freezing blueberries reduces their impact on health. When in doubt, buy fresh, organic blueberries.

Although more research is needed, blueberries are strongly linked to various different elements of healthful living.

1) Maintaining healthy bones

Blueberries contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. Each of these is a component of bone. Adequate intake of these minerals and vitamins contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

Iron and zinc fulfil crucial roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints.

Low intakes of vitamin K have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture. However, adequate vitamin K intake improves calcium absorption and may reduce calcium loss.

2) Skin health

Collagen is the support system of the skin. It relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient, and works to help prevent skin damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C may also improve collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and enhance overall skin texture.

One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

3) Lowering blood pressure

Maintaining low sodium levels is essential to keeping blood pressure at a healthful level. Blueberries are free of sodium.

They contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Some studies have shown that diets low in these minerals are associated with higher blood pressure. Adequate dietary intake of these minerals is thought to help reduce blood pressure.

However, other studies have counteracted these findings. For example, a 2015 study of people with metabolic syndrome found that daily blueberry consumption for 6 weeks did not affect blood pressure levels.

4) Managing diabetes

Studies have found that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have low blood glucose levels, and people with type 2 diabetes who consume the same may have improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels. One cup of blueberries contributes 3.6 grams (g) of fiber.

A large 2013 cohort study published in the BMJ suggested that certain fruits may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults.

Over the course of the study, 6.5 percent of the participants developed diabetes. However, the researchers found that consuming three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples or pears reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 percent.

5) Protecting against heart disease

Share on PinterestBlueberries can help to preserve cardiovascular health.

The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in blueberries supports heart health. The absence of cholesterol from blueberries is also beneficial to the heart. Fiber content helps to reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. Excessive buildup of homocysteine in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

According to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom (U.K.) regular consumption of anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women.

The study found that women who consumed at least three servings of blueberries or strawberries per week showed the best results.

6) Preventing cancer

Vitamin C, vitamin A, and the various phytonutrients in blueberries function as powerful antioxidants that may help protect cells against damage from disease-linked free radicals.

Research suggests that antioxidants may inhibit tumor growth, decrease inflammation in the body, and help ward off or slow down esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate, and colon cancers.

Blueberries also contain folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. This can prevent the formation of cancer cells due to mutations in the DNA.

7) Improving mental health

Population-based studies have shown that consumption of blueberries is connected to slower cognitive decline in older women.

Studies have also found that in addition to reducing the risk of cognitive damage, blueberries can also improve a person’s short-term memory and motor coordination.

8) Healthy digestion, weight loss, and feeling full

Blueberries help to prevent constipation and maintain regularity for a healthful digestive tract because of their fiber content.

Dietary fiber is also commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety, or the feeling of being full, and reduce appetite.

Feeling fuller for longer can reduce a person’s overall calorie intake.

Eating blueberries every day improves heart health

New findings published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that eating 150g of blueberries daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 per cent.

The research team from UEA’s Department of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, Norwich Medical School, say that blueberries and other berries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — particularly among at risk groups.

The team set out to see whether eating blueberries had any effect on Metabolic Syndrome — a condition, affecting 1/3 of westernised adults, which comprises at least three of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of ‘good cholesterol’ and high levels of triglycerides.

Lead researcher Prof Aedin Cassidy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Having Metabolic syndrome significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and often statins and other medications are prescribed to help control this risk.

“It’s widely recognised that lifestyle changes, including making simple changes to food choices, can also help.

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“Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.

“We wanted to find out whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing these sort of conditions.”

The team investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people, aged between 50 and 75, with Metabolic Syndrome. The six-month study was the longest trial of its kind.

They looked at the benefits of eating 150 gram portions (one cup) compared to 75 gram portions (half a cup). The participants consumed the blueberries in freeze-dried form and a placebo group was given a purple-coloured alternative made of artificial colours and flavourings.

Co-lead, Dr Peter Curtis, said: “We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness — making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 per cent.

“The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health.

“Unexpectedly, we found no benefit of a smaller 75 gram (half cup) daily intake of blueberries in this at-risk group. It is possible that higher daily intakes may be needed for heart health benefits in obese, at-risk populations, compared with the general population.”

Health Benefits of Blueberries

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Don’t let their miniature size fool you – blueberries are proof that, when it comes to health benefits, good things really do come in small packages.

They’re low in fat and sodium, have just 80 calories per cup1 and contain a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols. This group includes anthocyanins (163.3 mg/100 g), which are compounds that give blueberries their blue color.2

How the combination of all of the nutrients in this powerful little berry can be good for us is the subject of ongoing scientific research. For more information, see our Health Research section.

Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and are high in manganese.1 Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing.3 Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.4

Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber.1 Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, which may help you feel full faster.5, 6

Plus, one easy way to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet is to fill at least half of your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables … and blueberries provide that perfect shade of blue!

For more details on the health benefits of blueberries, check out our blueberry nutrition infographic. Visit our scientific research library for an in-depth look at blueberry health benefits.

Footnotes:

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  2. USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, Release 3.1 (2014).
  3. MedLine Plus Database: Vitamin C.
  4. MedLine Plus Database: Manganese.
  5. Medline Plus Database: Dietary Fiber.
  6. FDA Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (11. Appendix C: Health Claims).

Blueberries nutrition facts

Selection and storage

In the United States, blueberries can be readily available in the markets year round. However, fresh wild berries are at their best from June until August when their harvest season begins in Michigan and Maine in the USA and Quebec province in Canada.

In the stores, look for fresh berries that are firm, plump, smooth-skinned, with a silver-gray surface bloom. Buy deep purple-blue to blue-black berries. Avoid soft or shriveled, over-handled, bruised berries and those with signs of mold and old stock.

Once at home, place the berries in a plastic or zip pouch and store inside the refrigerator set at high relative humidity. Stored thus, they stay well for up to a week.

Preparation and serving tips

Blueberries are sweet, juicy, and stain mouth deep-blue. Trim away any stems and leaves if you have purchased berries directly from the local farmer.

They are better enjoyed fresh after washing in cold water. If taken out from the cold storage, place them in a bowl of water to bring them back to normal room temperature, which enriches their taste and palatability. Gently pat dry using a moisture absorbent cloth/paper and enjoy!

Here are some serving tips:

  • Traditionally, blueberries have been part of the food culture of the Native Americans.

  • While fresh berries are eaten as they are like in table grapes, dried ones added to soup, stews, and to sweeten venison meat.

  • Dry blueberries are one of the most preferred items in the preparation of muffins, pies, and cheesecakes.

  • They are also a favorite addition to fruit salads, fresh fruit tarts, and ice-creams.

  • They can also be employed to make juice, sauce, jellies, and jams.

Safety profile

Blueberries may often cause severe allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. Often, these kinds of reactions occur because of possible cross-reactions to other berries (strawberry), pollen or weed allergies. Some of the most common symptoms of blueberry allergy may include swelling and redness of mouth, lips, and tongue, eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing and gastrointestinal disturbances. Individuals who suspect an allergy to these fruits may want to avoid eating them. (Medical disclaimer).

<<-Back to Fruits from Blueberries nutrition. Visit here for an impressive list of all variety of fruits with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

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Further resources:

  1. Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Link opens in new window).

  2. Blueberry and anti-oxidant activity- www.blueberry.org (Link opens in new window).

  3. USDA National Nutrientl Dtabase.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Here’s a quick quiz: What do the 4th of July, the iPhone, and Blueberries have in common? Before we share the answer (no peeking!), let’s learn about the history and health benefits of the small but mighty Blueberry.

The Rise of the Modern Blueberry

The Blueberry has an intriguing history. As far back as the 17th century, Native Americans gathered the wild berries to use as food, medicine, and dye. They taught European settlers how to spot, pick, and preserve Blueberries, and brought Blueberries to the first Thanksgiving Feast at Plymouth in 1621.1

Once a wild plant native to the U.S., Blueberries are now farmed in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, Japan, and New Zealand.1 In the early 1900s, Dr. Frederick Coville and Elizabeth White selected the best-tasting and most easily-harvested wild Blueberries and created the Highbush variety that we eat today.1,2

While you could tour the world eating your fill of Blueberries on almost every continent, you don’t have to go to exotic locales to get the incredible health benefits of this humble berry. The Blueberries sold in your local market are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

The next time you pick some up, consider the punch these little guys pack:

Blueberry Benefit #1 – Antioxidants

Antioxidants can help prevent or delay free radical cell damage, which occurs when the body burns calories or is exposed to harmful substances such as cigarette smoke, UV rays, or polluted air.3

Antioxidant levels in foods are measured using an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score.4 Blueberries have an ORAC score ranging from 4,700 for farmed Blueberries to 9,600 for wild Blueberries.5 By comparison, carrots have a 700 ORAC score, and tomatoes have an ORAC score of 387.5

Blueberry Benefit #2 – High Vitamin Content

In addition to their antioxidant properties, Blueberries are loaded with vitamins, including vitamins C and K. In fact, just one cup of Blueberries supplies about a quarter7 of a day’s requirement of vitamin C, and more than a third6 of your daily vitamin K requirement.

According to an article written by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., and Dr. Brian Becker, M.D., “Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protect against heart disease, aid in the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides. Research indicates that vitamin C may help protect against a variety of cancers by combating free radicals, and helping neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that may raise the risk of certain forms of cancer). Supplemental vitamin C may also lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts, and support healthy immune function.”10

Vitamin K has been shown to help prevent heart disease and build strong bones, and can help your blood to clot after an injury. People who do not get enough vitamin K are at risk for problems with excessive bleeding.7

These versatile, vitamin-rich berries are delicious in baked goods, smoothies, shakes, or just by themselves. Consider making eating a cup of blueberries a regular part of your diet to help boost your vitamin C and K levels – your body will thank you!

Blueberry Benefit #3 – Minerals

Blueberries have many minerals that the body can use, particularly Manganese, a trace mineral that helps with the formation of tendons, bone, blood clotting factors, and hormones for reproduction. Manganese also helps the body to absorb Calcium and digest fats and sugars, and it helps the brain function better.8 Manganese deficiency can contribute to problems with fertility, low bone density, and seizures. But be careful – it is possible to ingest too much Manganese; high levels of Manganese have been found in people who have brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Disease.8 Talk to your health provider about your Manganese levels, and consider adding wild Blueberries to your diet; they have about 200% of your daily recommended amount of Manganese.

Blueberry Benefit #4 – Phytonutrients

We’re not done sharing all of the health benefits of the mighty Blueberry! In addition to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, Blueberries are also full of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals that plants use to protect themselves. These chemicals are also beneficial to humans.

The main phytonutrients found in Blueberries are anthocyanins, flavonoids, resveratrol, and ellagic acid. Anthocyanins are responsible for giving Blueberries their blue color, and have been shown to help with inflammation and heart health.9 Flavonoids have been shown to have antioxidant benefits and to help lower cholesterol. Resveratrol, which is also found in red wine, has been shown to promote heart health, act as an antioxidant, and extend people’s lives. (9) Ellagic acid promotes good health by preventing harmful mutations in living cells.9 Think of all the great nutrients your body is getting each time you munch on a handful of Blueberries!

Growing Your Own Blueberries

Although you could pick up a batch of Blueberries at almost any grocery store, why not try planting your own Blueberry bush? They are hearty plants and have been known to survive cold winters. Here are some tips from the Almanac on how to grow your own Blueberries:

Planting: Plant in acidic soil with a ph of 4 to 5. Plant in soil that drains well, but still retains moisture. Plant early in the Spring. Keep bushes in a row about 5 feet apart. Add fertilizer one month after planting, not during the planting process. Care:
Add 2-4 inches of mulch; you may use woodchip, sawdust, or pine needles.
Give 1-2 inches of water a week.
Pinch flowers the first year of being planted.
Start pruning after 4 years in late winter or early Spring.
Cut out dead or ugly shoots. Harvest:
Fruiting season is late may to mid August.
Pick only the berries that fall off the branch easily after they first turn blue.
Freeze fruits that are not being used.

The Answer Is…

You’ve read about how Blueberries are a tasty way to get more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients into your diet; have you also found the answer to the question we posed at the beginning of the article? The answer is: they are all as American as Apple – er, Blueberry – pie!

Enjoy these American classics this summer!

Feed Your Curiosity

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References 1. Blueberry History. Retrieved from http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-blueberry-history.html. 2. History of Blueberries. Retrieved from http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/about-blueberries/history-of-blueberries/. 3. Antioxidents: In Depth. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm. 4. ORAC: Scoring Antioxidants? Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/orac-scoring-antioxidants/. 5. Forget about blueberries – here come real antioxidants! Retrieved from http://drdnaturopath.com/forget-about-blueberries-here-come-real-antioxidants/. 6. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1851/2. 7. 10 Important Facts About Vitamin K That You Need to Know. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/03/24/vitamin-k-part-two.aspx. 8. Maganese. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/manganese. 9. Phytochemicals. Retrieved from http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/blueberry.php. 10. Vitamin C Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/vitamin-c-benefits/.

Load up on pints of blueberries the next time you hit the supermarket. Not only are these summertime treats reaching peak ripeness right now, but they’re a smart choice year-round in fresh or frozen form.

Anthocyanin — the antioxidant that give bluebs their color — contains powerful inflammation-fighting and cell-protecting properties. Plus, this naturally sweet-tasting produce contains next to no calories compared to some other desserts. And there are tons more reasons to sprinkle blueberries over just about everything you eat.

Nutrition Stats

Serving Size: 1 cup

  • 85 calories
  • 0.5 g fat
  • 21 g carbohydrates
  • 3.6 g fiber
  • 15 g sugar
  • 1.1 g protein
  • 114 mg potassium
  • 24% DV vitamin C
  • 5% DV vitamin B6

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Not only are they chock-full of the essential nutrient vitamin C, but these berries can also give your body a major boost in other ways:

Reduced risk of chronic disease: The antioxidants in berries may lower your risk of a whole host of illnesses by limiting inflammation and fighting free radicals.

Better brain health: The flavonoids in blueberries can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia by enhancing circulation and protecting brain cells from damage.

A healthier heart: Some studies have linked eating blueberries with decreased blood pressure. Since they’re loaded with polyphenolic compounds that help your blood vessels, blueberries count as a cardioprotective food.

Here’s what else you need to know before you blend up a blueberry smoothie:

Are blueberries a superfood?

Most foods high in antioxidants are touted as “superfoods,” but this term isn’t really defined, nor does it have any clear meaning. That said, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant values of any fruit, making them tiny nutritional powerhouses that pair well with lots of different meals and snacks. Regardless, fill up on more fruits and veggies no matter what. Those are “super” status in our book!

Is the frozen kind just as good?

Berries make for deliciously sweet, satisfying, and nutrient-packed snacks regardless of season. How? Farmers flash-freeze berries at the peak of the summer harvest (often within hours of when they’re picked!) to maximize health benefits and retain optimal flavor.

Will eating blueberries help me lose weight?

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Any food can make you put on pounds if you eat it in excess, but when it comes to blueberries, that’s not all that easy to do. A full cup contains just 80 calories and up to nine grams of fiber — a combo that helps you enjoy maximum flavor and fullness for minimal calorie cost.

Can blueberries help give me energy?

The combo of soluble and insoluble fiber in berries can help slow down the rate of digestion in your GI tract, causing a steadier release of sugar into your bloodstream and a more stable, longer-lasting energy boost! That quality also makes bluebs a smart choice for diabetics or other people watching their blood sugar levels.

How should I eat ’em?

Adding blueberries to your day in any form is great! Swap these unsweetened treats for dried fruit in salads and sautés; use them in homemade smoothies; pep up cereals, pancakes, and desserts; upgrade your sparkling water or unsweetened tea with frozen bluebs; or eat them on their own for maximum health benefits.

These three favorite blueberry recipes also feature this powerful produce:

  • Smoked Turkey Salad with Blueberries
  • Blueberry-Kiwi Tarts
  • Flu Fighter Berry Smoothie

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

Originally published by GreenMedInfo

Eating blueberries regularly helps fend off heart disease, cancer, brain aging, and much more. Here are seven great reasons to eat more blueberries regularly.

Blueberries pack huge health benefits in a tiny package. Spring and summer are prime seasons for fresh blueberries. But there are good reasons to eat them all year, and a freezer can be a big help.

Are Blueberries Good for You? Seven Great Reasons to Eat More Blueberries Every Day

1. Berries Stop Heart Attacks

According to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association eating at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries every week can save women from heart attacks.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia reviewed the berry-eating habits of 93,600 women between the ages of 25 and 42 over 18 years. The women were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II. Researchers concluded that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week reduced their risk of heart attack by as much as one-third.

And it really had to be berries. Women who ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables did not enjoy the same reduced heart attack risk.

2. Lower Blood Pressure With Blueberries

Blueberries can lower your blood pressure. Researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on 48 post-menopausal women with pre-hypertension or stage one hypertension.

Every day, half the women were given 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries. The other half received a placebo. The results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

After just 8 weeks, the women who took the blueberry powder had significantly lowered their systolic (5.1%) and diastolic (6.3%) blood pressure. Those on the placebo had no change.

In addition, the blueberry powder reduced arterial stiffness on average by 6.5%. No change was seen in the placebo group. Arterial stiffness is a symptom of atherosclerosis and predicts cardiovascular risk. It indicates that the heart has to work harder to circulate blood to the peripheral blood vessels.

The researchers attributed the beneficial effects to an amazing 68.5% increase in blood levels of nitric oxide in the women who took the blueberry powder. Nitric oxide is known to widen blood vessels to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. Those on the placebo had no changes in nitric oxide levels.

3. Wild Blueberries Boost Vascular Health

A study from Florida State University found that a daily serving of blueberries could be key to fighting cardiovascular disease in women.

And in another study, researchers from England and Germany proved that less than a cup of wild blueberries can have an almost immediate and long-lasting effect on how well your vascular system is circulating blood. The more easily blood flows through your arteries and veins, the less your heart has to work.

They conducted two randomized, controlled, double-blind crossover studies in 21 healthy men between 18 and 40 years old. In the first study, some of the men drank varying amounts of blueberry polyphenols, ranging from the equivalent of 240 grams (3/4 cup) to 560 grams (1.25 cups) of wild blueberries. Others were given a drink with the same macro and micronutrients but no blueberry polyphenols.

The researchers then measured changes in the men’s “flow-mediated dilation.” FMD is the gold-standard to measure endothelial function. The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels. FMD is considered a good predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.

They found that as blueberry polyphenols were broken down by enzymes into various metabolites, endothelial function in the men improved. The benefits lasted at least 6 hours.

A second study showed that FMD improved in a dose-dependent manner up to the equivalent of about 240 grams of wild blueberries. Then, the effects plateaued. In other words, the men didn’t get any additional benefit in endothelial function by eating any more than the equivalent of three-quarters of a cup of wild blueberries.

4. Prevent Cancer With Blueberries

A study in the journal Nutrition Research found that daily blueberries increase natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are white blood cells that play a critical role in the immune system’s defense against foreign invaders like viruses and tumors. They scan the body for abnormal cells and destroy them before they can develop into actual cancers.

The researchers divided 25 sedentary men and post-menopausal women in two groups. Every day, one group received a placebo while the other was given 38 grams of blueberry powder. The powder was equivalent to 250 grams of fresh fruit.

After six weeks, the blueberry group saw significant increases in NK cells. The results were consistent with earlier research by the same team finding that blueberries improve NK cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation in trained athletes.

Other research shows that blueberries are rich in antioxidants that help prevent cancer. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, atoms that contain an odd number of electrons and are highly unstable. Free radicals can cause the type of cellular damage that is a big factor in cancer development.

Blueberries are also rich in anthocyanins. These compounds give blueberries their beautiful color. They also help explain why blueberries may help prevent the free-radical damage associated with cancer.

5. Berries Protect Lungs

Anthocyanins in blueberries also protect your lungs as you get older.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 839 participants from the VA (Veterans Affairs) Normative Aging Study.

Over 16 years, it found that men who ate two or more servings of blueberries a week had up to 37.9 percent less decline in their lung function compared to those who ate no or very little blueberries.

6. Berries Improve Insulin Sensitivity

A double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical study in The Journal of Nutrition found that bioactive compounds found in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity.

Twice a week researchers had 32 obese, non-diabetic, insulin-resistant patients drink smoothies with or without 22.5 grams of blueberry bioactives. After six weeks, the blueberry group improved their insulin sensitivity by a factor of four over the placebo group.

In another randomized controlled study from Oklahoma State University, 48 people consumed either a freeze-dried blueberry beverage or a placebo drink once a day. The freeze-dried drink was equivalent to about 350 grams (3.5 cups) of fresh blueberries.

After eight weeks researchers found that the blueberries improved measures of metabolic syndrome.

7. Blueberries Keep Your Brain Young

A study in the Annals of Neurology found that anthocyanins in blueberries can slow brain aging by up to 2.5 years.

Harvard researchers measured cognitive function in 16,010 participants 70 years and older in the Nurses’ Health Study. Based on dietary questionnaires, they concluded that eating more blueberries slowed cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.

It works for young people, too. In a crossover study in the journal Nutrition, 14 children aged 8 to 10 years old consumed a blueberry drink or placebo. Two hours later they completed a battery of five cognitive tests. The blueberry drink significantly improved delayed recall of a list of words.

Eat Blueberries More Often

Making one simple change to your diet by adding blueberries could have a significant impact on cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, and brain power.

In addition to polyphenols, blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins K and C, manganese, and fiber.

Wild blueberries are particularly potent. They are smaller than the cultivated versions most often found in your supermarket, with about twice the number of berries per pound. They also have less water and a higher skin-to-pulp ratio. That means the wild versions have more intense flavor and double the antioxidant content.

During the spring and summer months, enjoy blueberries fresh. Out of season, you can easily find them frozen or dried. Add them to salads, non-dairy yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies. Or just eat them by the handful.

But many berries are heavily treated with pesticides. So try to choose organic blueberries if you can to be safe.

© April 10, 2018 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.

If you’ve ever wondered — Are blueberries good for you? — now you know these tiny, delicious fruits are fantastic for you, whether you eat them conventional or wild.

Tell us in the comments: What are your favorite ways to eat blueberries?

The fashionable blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a relative newcomer to the popular fruit scene and was one of the first to be titled a ‘superfood’. There are many different varieties of blueberry growing in different regions of the world. Huckleberries and bilberries are well known members of the blueberry family, native to North America.

Blueberries grow in clusters on shrubby bushes and can range in size. Some grow in the UK, but the majority of the blueberries we find in the shops will be imported. Cultivated blueberries are common and taste sweeter than those grown in the wild which are tart. Blueberries are a deep blue-purple colour with a thin translucent skin and tiny seeds.

Nutritional highlights

Blueberries (and other berries such as raspberries and blackberries) are an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps protect cells against damage and aids in the absorption of iron.

They also contain a decent amount of soluble fibre, which slows down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream and helps to keep the digestive system happy.

Blueberries are extremely rich in phytochemicals, naturally occurring plant compounds, such as ellagic acid and anthocyanidins which are responsible for the blue, indigo and red colouring. Phytochemicals have been extensively researched for their antioxidant action that helps protect the body against a long list of diseases. However, it is important to note that their superfood label is somewhat over the top and all berries, not just blueberries, have similar benefits.

Blueberries are low in calories and a 100g serving provides 1.5g fibre. A wide range of colourful fruits and vegetables are encouraged as part of a balanced diet and blueberries are a fantastic choice to include. One portion of blueberries is about a handful.

Health benefits

The health benefits of blueberries are due mainly to anthocyanidins. They are exceptional antioxidants found in red/purple fruits and vegetables, reported to be effective with a variety of health conditions.

Research has shown that anthocyanidins are highly active phytonutrients transported in the bloodstream where they act on blood vessels and collagen to reinforce and preserve it. They support blood vessel integrity around the body, not only the collagen in skin. This action has linked anthocyanidins to a reduction in cardiovascular disease (by protecting the vessels around the heart).

Another popular use of blueberries is related to vision and protecting against age-related macular degeneration. Legend suggests that during World War Two, British Air Force aviators ate bilberry jam daily to improve their night vision…

Traditional medicine suggests blueberries as a remedy for both diarrhoea and constipation and they may be able to help with urinary tract infections.

Select and store

Choose blueberries that look firm and free from moisture, since the presence of moisture will cause them to spoil. Store in the fridge where they will keep, although they are best if consumed within a few days.

UK grown blueberries are in season from June to September. In winter, they will be imported from around the world. A better environmental choice might be to choose frozen berries or freeze at home when in season.

Before freezing, spread the berries out on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, put them in a plastic bag for storage. Frozen blueberries may lose their texture more than other fresh berries, but the flavour still remains good.

Blueberries are an easy addition to breakfast cereals with a dollop of yogurt and they blend well into a smoothie.

Recipes

Apple & blueberry Bircher
Chicken & avocado salad with blueberry balsamic dressing
Get up and go breakfast muffins
Instant frozen berry yogurt
Heart helper smoothie

This article was last reviewed on 4th July 2018 by Kerry Torrens.

A nutritionist (MBANT) Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at www.nutrijo.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Blueberry Nutrition

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Plump, juicy, and sweet, with vibrant colors ranging from deep purple-blue to blue-black and highlighted by a silvery sheen called a bloom, blueberries are one of nature’s great treasures. Though miniature in size, they are also proof that, when it comes to nutrition, good things really do come in small packages. With 80 calories per cup, virtually no fat and low in sodium, blueberries offer many nutritional benefits.

Blueberries contain vitamin C.

In just one serving, you can get almost 16% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C.1 Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing.2

Blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber.

A handful of blueberries can help you meet your daily fiber requirement. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, which may help you feel full faster.3 ,4

Blueberries are high in manganese.

Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.5

Get the lowdown on blueberry nutrition below, and download more information about the health benefits of blueberries from our library.

Footnotes:

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  2. MedLine Plus Database: Vitamin C.
  3. Medline Plus Database: Dietary Fiber.
  4. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21: Food and Drugs. PART 101—FOOD LABELING. Subpart E—Specific Requirements for Health Claims. §101.77 Health claims: fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and risk of coronary heart disease.
  5. MedLine Plus Database: Manganese.

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Blueberry Nutrition

Nutrient Units Per 100 grams Per 1cup (148g)
Water g 84.21 124.63
Energy kcal 57 84
Protein g 0.74 1.10
Total lipid (fat) g 0.33 0.49
Cholesterol mg 0 0
Carbohydrate g 14.49 21.45
Fiber, dietary g 2.4 3.6
Sugars, total g 9.96 14.74
Sucrose g 0.11 0.16
Glucose g 4.88 7.22
Fructose g 4.97 7.36
Starch g 0.03 0.04
Minerals
Calcium mg 6 9
Iron mg 0.28 0.41
Magnesium mg 6 9
Phosphorus mg 12 18
Potassium mg 77 114
Sodium mg 1 1
Zinc mg 0.16 0.24
Copper mg 0.057 0.084
Manganese mg 0.336 0.497
Selenium mcg 0.1 0.1
Vitamins
Vitamin C mg 9.7 14.4
Thiamin mg 0.037 0.055
Riboflavin mg 0.041 0.061
Niacin mg 0.418 0.619
Pantothenic acid mg 0.124 0.184
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.052 0.077
Folate mcg 6 9
Vitamin A, IU IU 54 80
Vitamin E mg 0.57 0.84
Vitamin K mcg 19.3 28.6
Carotene, beta mcg 32 47
Carotene, alpha mcg 0 0
Lycopene mcg 0 0
Lutein + zeaxanthin mcg 80 118

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23 (2010)

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