Blueberries are amazing in many different ways. Besides being delicious, these small fruits in shades of blue and purple remind us of summer days, blue-stained hands, blueberry juice, and homemade pies. The fact that they are extremely delicate and have to be hand-picked also contributes to giving this fruit an even more special aura.
In terms of their nutritional value and health benefits, blueberries are on a whole new level. That’s probably why they have become incredibly popular among nutritionists and are part of all sorts of diets. Not only are they a low-calorie fruit, but they also contain a large number of antioxidants. These antioxidants, together with other vitamins and nutrients, can help the human body on several fronts.
Nutrition facts (per 100mg):
- Calories: 57
- Total fat: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 1.0 mg
- Carbohydrates: 14.5 g
- Fiber: 2.4 g
- Sugars: 10 g
- Protein: 0.7 g
- Vitamin C: 9.7 mg (16% DV)
- Vitamin K1: 19.3 mcg (24% DV)
- Manganese: 0.3 g (17% DV)
Without further ado, here are the seven benefits of blueberries that make this fruit a superfood:
1. Improve skin health
You probably already heard about a protein called collagen. Among other things, it provides structure to the skin and helps protect it against aging and UV and pollution damage. That’s why many beauty products use collagen as a buzzword to advertise their products’ benefits – such as improved skin texture, for example. It’s a trick to increase sales, of course, but it contains a grain of truth since these products do contain collagen. So, what are the benefits of blueberries for the skin, and why are we talking about collagen, you ask? Well, blueberries don’t contain collagen, obviously. But as we have shown above, they are a great source of vitamin C. This vitamin stimulates the body’s collagen production and improves its capacity to repair damaged skin.
2. Help keep blood pressure under control
Blueberries can play a key role in the regulation of blood pressure. At least among certain groups of people such as postmenopausal women and obese people. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition back in 2010 concluded that the daily consumption of blueberries could reduce blood pressure in obese people by up to 6%. It might seem like a low drop, but it can be crucial to keep blood pressure levels under control and prevent a series of dangerous complications.
3. Reduce levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol
Also known as “bad” cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol is a substance produced in the liver that is present in all body cells. Having an excessive level of this substance in the blood can lead to plaque formation, which in turn contributes to the development of coronary heart disease. When this cholesterol gets damaged by chemical interactions with free radicals, it turns into oxidized LDL cholesterol. Risk factors that may contribute to increasing oxidized LDL cholesterol levels include smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, poor diet, stress, exposure to toxins, and metabolic syndrome. This problem can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that drastically increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, two leading causes of death. Some health experts believe that the antioxidants contained in blueberries can reduce the levels of oxidized LDL.
4. Promote hearth health
Keeping blood pressure within reasonable limits and reducing the levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol are in themselves great ways to promote heart health. But blueberries can also help you on other fronts. Anthocyanins antioxidants belong to the flavonoids family and are the main antioxidants found in blueberries. According to a study published in 2013, these specific antioxidants can lower the risk of heart attack by about 30% in young and middle-aged women. These conclusions were drawn after analyzing a sample of more than 90 thousand women aged 25 to 42. This was an observational study, so it is impossible to prove that the reduction in the risk of heart attack was due exclusively to the increased intake of blueberries and strawberries.
5. May reduce the risk of cancer
Blueberries are among the foods that can prevent cancer. This statement may seem too good to be true, but we all know that our diet strongly influences our health and, in this case, the probability of developing some forms of cancer. There are a lot of scientific studies that have shown that foods high in certain antioxidants may help protect cells against DNA damage caused by free radicals. Compared with other common fruits and vegetables, blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants (flavonoids is the main antioxidant, in case you are wondering).
These studies suggest that antioxidants may inhibit tumor growth and decrease inflammation in the body, which may have some impact on the prevention of lung, mouth, prostate, and colon cancer, among others. These results are extremely promising, but a lot more research is still needed before we can say that this specific benefit is scientifically proven.
6. Improve your mood
Usually, the delicious foods that can improve your mood right away are high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. This is because they stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine. However, we all know that this feeling of immediate pleasure is not worth the medium and long-term damage that a diet rich in this type of food does to our health.
Fortunately, there are blueberries. The flavonoid antioxidants present in blueberries may contribute to making you feel emotionally better. This suggestion was made by the scientist who conducted a study on the effects of acute blueberry flavonoids on mood in children and young adults – which is precisely the title of the article they published in 2017. The mechanisms that link flavonoid interventions with improved positive mood are not yet fully understood, but the results observed are quite promising.
7. Promote bone health
Blueberries provide most of the nutrients your bones need to stay healthy as you age. Calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorous, zinc, vitamin K… blueberries have it all covered! It’s time to introduce them into your diet to minimize the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis when you reach a more advanced age.