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The Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries. Did you know that those tiny, little, blueish-purple berries pack quite the punch? And not just in the taste department either. Blueberries are chock full of incredible health benefits.

They are versatile and can be used in many different ways, and because of this, they are considered to be one of the top Superfoods! Blueberries are full of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, as well as being high in Vitamin C and potassium.

The antioxidants and phytonutrients in blueberries also have been known to reduce the signs of aging, improve brain health, help with weight loss, and help control blood pressure and even diabetes. All of this, plus the fact that they can lower the risks of heart disease, cancer and are anti-inflammatories-make them one of the best superfoods to have in your kitchen. 

What are blueberries?

Blueberries on a perennial flowering shrub. They grow in clusters around the world but in particular in North America and are related to cranberries and gooseberries.  

What is the Nutritional Value of a Blueberry?

The average serving size for blueberries is one cup. Within that cup, you can find the following:

· Water 84 g

· Energy 57kcal

· Protein 0.74g

· Total Fat 0.33g

· Carbohydrates 14.49g

· Fiber 2.4g

· Sugars 9.96g

· Calcium 6mg

· Iron 0.28mg

· Magnesium 6mg

· Phosphorus 12mg

· Potassium 77mg

· Sodium 1mg

· Zinc 0.16mg

· Vitamin C 9.7mg

· Thiamin 0.04mg

· Riboflavin 0.04mg

· Niacin 0.42mg    

Blueberries have very high water content as well as tons of antioxidants, which are responsible for their beautiful vibrant colour and for their nutritional value. 

What are the health benefits of blueberries? 

Here are the top 10 health benefits of eating blueberries.

1. Blueberries can help to strengthen bones

2. Blueberries are great for skin health

3. Blueberries lower bad cholesterol

4. Blueberries can help protect your heart

5. Blueberries can help to manage diabetes

6. Blueberries can potentially be anti-cancerous

7. Blueberries can also improve brain function

8. Blueberries can aid in weight loss

9. Blueberries are rich with antioxidants

10. Blueberries can reduce inflammation

 

1. Blueberries can help to strengthen bones

Strong bones come from so much more than just calcium. Our bones also need iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and Vitamin K to stay healthy. All of which are found in blueberries! Exercise and a healthy diet that includes blueberries can help to maintain strong bones for many years.  

2. Blueberries are great for skin health

Vitamin C in blueberries helps to build collagen, which is great for filling in those fine lines and wrinkles. As well the anthocyanins in the blueberries help to fight that nasty oxidative stress that causes DNA breakdowns and damage. These two factors make blueberries amazing fruits that have the ability to reduce the signs of aging in your skin.  

3. Blueberries lower bad cholesterol

Bad cholesterol -also known as LDL, can be dissolved by high fiber content and lots of antioxidants. Who can do this job? That’s right! Blueberries to the rescue again! When you lower the bad cholesterol in your body, you also decrease your risks of heart disease and strengthen your cardiac muscles. Blueberries are also filled with potassium, calcium, and magnesium all of which help to reduce blood pressure. 

4. Blueberries can help protect your heart

This benefit pretty much goes hand in hand with #3. In terms of protection for the heart, this comes from the fiber, anthocyanin, potassium, folate, and Vitamins B and C. When your cholesterol is down, your arteries are more evident and your heart is happier and healthier.  

5. Blueberries can help to manage diabetes

Blueberry juice has been shown to help improve insulin levels. Because of its high fiber content, it is an essential part of nutrition for diabetics as it helps to lower their blood sugar levels.  

6. Blueberries can potentially be anti-cancerous

The antioxidants and all the nutritious elements that make blueberries a superfood are also all the same reasons why they are considered to be anti-cancerous.  

7. Blueberries can also improve brain function

A combination of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in blueberries can help protect against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They do this by healing damaged brain cells and keeping the memory sharp. They are also very beneficial for the growing brains of young children. 

8. Blueberries can aid in weight loss

Blueberries are filled with tons of fiber. Fiber is a great way to promote digestion and weight loss. It helps with satiety and reduces belly fat. So, if you are following a diet or reduced-calorie nutrition plan, blueberries make a great snack.  

9. Blueberries are rich with antioxidants

Why are antioxidants important? Because they reduce cellular damage, which causes the body to age. They protect against free radicals and help the body to remain in top form.  

10. Blueberries can reduce inflammation

Once again, it’s those awesome little antioxidants! They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can drastically reduce inflammation. This is true for both acute and chronic inflammation issues. 

Although all the above are fantastic reasons to eat more blueberries, they are not the only ones. There are also several other side effects and health benefits to adding more blueberries into your diet. 

In Need of a Natural Antidepressant? Blueberries are a great choice!

Wild blueberries are rich in flavonoids that have been shown to help improve and enhance your mood, thereby acting as an effective antidepressant. 

Blueberries can aid in alleviating the symptoms of UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections)

Surprise! It’s not just cranberries that can do this! Blueberries also have antibiotic properties that help remove and prevent bacteria in the bladder.  

Blueberries can assist in keeping your eyes healthy

Macular degeneration can be delayed with the antioxidants found in blueberries. All macular degeneration such as myopia, cataracts, dryness, and infections of the retina can be helped by this effect. In particular, it’s the carotenoids and flavonoids that are great for long-lasting ocular health.  

Give your immunity a boost with blueberries

So how do those tiny little blueberries boost up the large and complicated human immune system? Through their incredibly versatile antioxidants. They help to keep the body healthy by preventing infections. A strong immune system means that you will have lower risks of catching colds, fever, and the flu. All of which are spread by airborne viruses. This is true of many other bacterial illnesses as well. 

Reduce muscle soreness with blueberries

Blueberries have anti-inflammatories that help to reduce muscle soreness after a tough workout. Eating them before a workout is a great way to pre-empt the lactic acid build-up and eventual pain. And eating them afterward will help alleviate any symptoms that you have incurred.  

Blueberries keep your hair healthy

Blueberries actually promote hair growth! This doesn’t mean that blueberries are a cure for things like male pattern baldness or alopecia. However, if applied topically in a mix with olive oil, they are thought to stimulate and enhance a thicker, more luscious growth. 

Detox your body with blueberries

The high levels of anthocyanin in blueberries are what enable them to help the body detoxify from a build-up of heavy metals. Metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are common toxins that will eventually lead to disease if not eradicated.  

Eating blueberries regularly can help increase your lifespan

Inside blueberries, there are polyphenols and resveratrol, both of which have been found to increase longevity. By decreasing the effects of aging, they enable the body to maintain a more youthful appearance and working order.  

There Are Many Different Types of Blueberries

More than just a simple little blueberry. Blueberries come in five major types. 

  • Lowbush Blueberries
  • Northern Highbush Blueberries
  • Southern Highbush Blueberries
  • Rabbiteye Blueberries
  • Half-high Blueberries

Different Ways to Eat Blueberries

Obviously, eating them fresh and raw is the perfect snack; however, blueberries can be used in baking and cooking in many different ways. They give off a sweet and sometimes tart taste, which makes them great as toppings to anything from cereal and yogurt to salads. They are also great in baking and can be added to things such as muffins, scones, pies, and cakes. And let’s not forget smoothies and shakes! Both can benefit in flavour and nutrition by adding blueberries or blueberry juice and extract.

To Keep in Mind When Using Blueberries

· If you choose to add blueberries to your smoothies, a good rule of thumb is to add one cup of fruit for every two cups of vegetables. And then, of course, balance it with a serving of protein. 

  • Frozen blueberries have a ton of fiber in them. This is because blueberries that will be frozen are picked when they are at their peak of ripeness. Then the freezing process retains this fiber and gives them a delicious, refreshing taste, filled with fiber when consumed. By adding frozen blueberries to smoothies or sprinkling them over ice cream, yogurt, and cereal, you can really boost your fiber intake.  

Choosing, Storing and Freezing Your Blueberries

The following are some tips for choosing the best blueberries and storing them for long-lasting freshness.

  • Blueberries come in fresh, frozen, and dried formats. First, decide which format is best for your recipe.
  • Frozen blueberries will lose their texture faster than fresh berries, but the flavour and health benefits remain the same. 
  • When purchasing fresh berries, always choose the firmest, moisture-free berries. These will taste the best and last the longest. 
  • Fresh blueberries are best stored in a dry fruit or vegetable drawer in your fridge.
  • When rinsing the blueberries before freezing them, it’s essential to dry them thoroughly with a paper towel and remove all moisture. 
  • Give your frozen blueberries a good ten minutes to thaw out at room temperature before use. Do not microwave defrost them. They will become a mushy mess. 

The Downside of Blueberries

For the average healthy person, there are literally no downsides from eating blueberries. However, for a few people who have particular health issues, there can be a few side effects. 

Blood-thinning: For those who take blood-thinning medications or have blood disorders such as hemophilia, certain precautions must be taken. In some cases, minimizing the number of blueberries or even avoiding them altogether is best. Because blueberries are filled with Vitamin K, there can potentially be issues such as blood clots that are caused by the Vitamin K interfering with the blood-thinning medication. If this is your situation, it’s best to check with your doctor first. 

Allergic reactions: Despite being an incredibly healthy fruit to consume, sadly, some people have fruit allergies. If you find that you are itchy, have swelling or difficulty breathing after eating blueberries, you may have a food allergy to them. 

Finally, one of the most exciting things to note about blueberries is that the darker their colour, the more they are packed with nutrients. So, the plump, round, dark blue, almost purple blueberries, not only taste the best but they are the ones that are packed with the most antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Blueberries are a great source of healthy nutrients and are easy to add to our daily diet. Either as a raw fruit snack or within desserts and smoothies, there are so many possibilities when it comes to blueberries. The next time you find yourself in a grocery store, make sure to pick up a few packs of fresh blueberries to eat right away and a bag of frozen ones to store for later!

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php

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