Blueberries are one of the most nutrient dense berries, offering a host of vitamins and a kick of fiber with each serving. This fruit has been popular for centuries for its sweet taste and wide array of varieties, but now they are on the menu because of their various health benefits. With only 84 calories per serving, boasting no fat, and offering a slow burning carb to help you stay full longer, you should take the time to discover how this tiny fruit can help your body in six crucial ways.
- Heart Health
An eighteen-year long study conducted by Dr. Eric Rimm, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, found the women who ate a regular diet of blueberries had a 34% lower chance of heart attacks. His team reported that those who started a regular diet of blueberries at a young age, were able to have the most benefit, but everyone should incorporate this berry into their diet.
Research showed that the blueberries high level of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and unique phytonutrients were able to significantly improve cardiovascular health. Phytonutrients are non-mineral, non-vitamin components of food that have incredible health benefits. With thousands of different phytonutrients with different characteristics and functions, this part of our food is still being studied today.
What we do know, is that phytonutrients decrease the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol) as well as total serum cholesterol, thereby modifying two significant risk factors for heart disease. They also are able to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzymes, which increase the risk for hypertension while also preventing the development of high blood pressure.
- Potential Cancer Reduction Properties
When it comes to fighting cancer, the phytonutrients are aided by the high antioxidant levels in blueberries such as vitamin C and E. Various studies have shown that people who consume high levels of antioxidants and ellagic acid (located in berry seeds) are three times less likely to develop cancer when compared with those who lacked these nutrients.
Research has shown that the nutrient dense blueberries may help prevent cancers of the:
The high antioxidant level helps your body to neutralize free radicals in your body that accumulate from environmental and personal toxins that build up. Free radicals can cause cellular damage that is one of the biggest factors for causing cancer after genetics.
- Fight UTIs
Urinary tract infections (UTI) cause uncomfortable inflammation and a burning sensation during urination, and are created by certain bacteria along the lining of the urinary tract. Blueberries cannot stop this painful condition, but they can prevent it. While most people recognize cranberries as the top resource for ridding yourself of an UTI blueberries are a close cousin of the cranberry.
The University of Maryland Medical Center found that the proanthocyanidins in blueberries will help to prevent bacteria from clinging to your urinary tract, effectively flushing them out. In addition, Johns Hopkins Medicine found that the large amount of vitamin C in raw blueberries inhibits the growth of bacteria responsible for UTIs as well as reducing the ability of the bacteria to bind to bladder tissue and accumulate.
- Brain Boost
Blueberries contain many differing elements that help to prevent the degeneration and death of neurons and brain cells that are responsible for age related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. That list includes:
- Vitamins A, B-Complex, and C
The combination of these nutrients when combined with phytonutrients help protect your brain from oxidative stress while significantly improving your motor skills and learning capacity.
- Help Preserve Vision
As far as your eyes are concerned, blueberries are a miracle. For instance, age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of blindness and vision loss for those over the age of 65, however; free radicals have been directly linked to almost every cause of macular degeneration and AMD is no different. Studies by USDA researchers found that blueberries have the strongest antioxidant capacity of many fruits and vegetables and we know that antioxidants help to combat free radicals and save your vision.
The antioxidants in blueberries help to fight oxidation in your body, which not only prevents macular degeneration, but will also help with other common cause of vision impairment such as glaucoma and cataracts. However, antioxidants do not only help with free radicals.
The vitamin E in this sweet fruit can help to stop the formation of cataracts due to their concentration of anthocyanin (flavonoid pigments that act as antioxidants). In addition to reducing oxidation effects on your eyes, anthocyanin helps your body to maintain general eye health. In addition, they help to reduce the inflammation from many eye diseases and diabetic retinopathy, as well as improving any damage that has been done from the effects of diabetes.
One serving of blueberries will offer your body a decent amount of zinc, which is a vital mineral for eye health. Zinc increases the absorption of vitamin A, which is crucial to creating a pigment called melanin, which protects the eyes. Impaired vision has been directly linked to zinc deficiency, resulting in conditions such as cataracts and poor night vision. Those who are at a high risk for experiencing AMD are usually prescribed diets rich in zinc or an added supplement for eye health.
- Weight loss
Blueberries are a delicious and nutritional powerhouse with a caloric intake that is a small as the berries themselves. With all the combined nutrients we have mentioned, you get the amazing health benefits as well as a large dose of insoluble fiber that helps your digestive system function properly. With 21.5 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you will find yourself staying full for longer while also fulfilling most of your fiber needs for the day.
Research into blueberries have shown that they have the same health benefits whether you eat them raw, cooked into a pie, or frozen in a smoothie, so there is a variety of ways in which you can get your daily boost from this amazing blueberry. These incredibly proven benefits of blueberries make it the perfect snack for the summer!