Blueberries are simple yet beautiful fruits that mostly grow in blue or purple colour. They possess a sweet, sour taste that makes people feel drawn to them, and their natural healing abilities have earned them a place within the group of super-power foods. Blueberries together with huckleberries, cranberries, Madeira blueberries, and bilberries, all belong to the genus Vaccinium which grows throughout different parts of the world, and exist in over 25 species.
A cup of blueberries is approximately 150 grams and contains 84 calories, 0 g of cholesterol, 1.1 g of protein, 0.49 g of fat, 21.45 g of carbohydrate, 3.6 g of dietary fibre, 14.74 g of total sugars, 9 mg calcium, 0.41 mg of iron, 114 mg of potassium, 9 mg of magnesium, 18 mg of phosphorus, 1 mg of sodium, 0.24 mg of zinc, and 9 mg of folate. This provides blueberries the ability to highly be beneficial in the following ways.
Maintain healthy bones
Bone loss or osteoporosis as it can also be called, is a natural problem faced by humans right from early birth, especially in less developed countries where food resources are scarce. Many people have always believed that bone loss is only possible in adulthood or old age since there is a deterioration of bone cells that comes with aging. However many clinical studies have proven that bone deformity and bone loss can also occur at a younger stage of life, and this is mostly due to the lack of sufficient nutrients in the body responsible for healthy bone formation.
The bone is formed by bone cells and genes, let's take for instance collagen Type 1 and Sirt1. Under normal circumstances, these cells are allowed to fully form and regenerate into strong healthy bones; while the opposite might lead to cell degeneration which is caused by many factors especially the lack of healthy nutrition. If a blueberry diet is supplemented, the polyphenols in blueberries stimulate the formation of these bone-forming cells. So, there are studies supporting the belief that consuming blueberries from an early age can protect against bone loss.
Improve skin health
The skin is the easiest medium of telling someone’s health. It’s hard to believe, but the conditions of a person's skin might tell the state of their health. Most skin disorders begin from within, and they’re a clear indication that something might not be right on the inner side. Blueberries are loaded with nutrients like fibres, vitamins, and antioxidants which are beneficial for your overall health, which then eventually leads to healthier and cleaner skin. Blueberries have proven to work wonders when it comes to treating skin conditions and that’s why they’re at the top of most skincare routines.
They even your skin tone, act as an anti-aging agent, give plumpness to your skin, and treat against acne, eczema, and many more skin disorders. So, if there is a skin condition you’ve been fighting but you’ve not been consuming blueberries, it’s not late for a change.
Regulating or lowering blood pressure
Blueberries contain high levels of anthocyanins, which is the compound responsible for their dark colour. But these compounds not only give blueberries their dark colour, it also give them the ability to become a natural drug for the cardiovascular system. Hence blueberries have the power to regulate blood pressure, maintain normal blood flow, decrease systolic blood pressure, and even prevent hypertension.
You probably heard the word Glycemic Index or GI. This, it’s simply the value used to measure how much specific foods increase blood sugar levels. This means that foods with higher GI tend to increase blood sugar levels, while foods with lower or medium GI would have little or no effect on blood sugar. The Glycemic Index of blueberries is 53, which is considered a low GI. So, as a diabetic or prediabetic person, there is no need to be afraid of consuming blueberries, instead, you’re more encouraged to consume them. Why? We did mention that blueberries are considered to be a superfood, and numerous studies back the fact that blueberries can make the body more responsive to insulin. Helping you improve insulin sensitivity, eventually helping you keep your blood sugars under control. Which is a big advantage for people with prediabetic and diabetic conditions. All these, again thanks to the anthocyanins found in blueberries.
Protect against heart disease
We have learned a lot about blueberries, especially their connection with the cardiovascular system. Now if we did mention that a cup of blueberries a day has the power to help regulate blood pressure and manage diabetes, it should not be surprising to hear they can also protect against heart diseases or heart attacks. Cardiovascular diseases mostly come as a result of many factors, especially reduced blood flow to the heart, where inflammation plays a big role. Inflammation in the arteries can cause the blood clot to form and block blood flow. And the antioxidants in blueberries, the anthocyanins we’ve been talking about, aren’t really friendly to inflammation. So, the intake of anthocyanins has proven to lower the risk of heart attacks, although more research is required for a final conclusion since this is just a clinical observation.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants like pterostilbene, which have the ability to prevent the growth and spreading of cancer cells, many researchers claim. There are other studies claiming a direct connection between the intake of blueberries and a reduction in risk of breast cancer. So, yes the antioxidants in blueberries can have an effect on cancer cells, but more research is needed to come to a conclusion that consuming blueberries or taking a blueberry supplement would directly eliminate cancer cells.
Improve mental health
Mental health is one of the most important aspects of life we all care about. From fear of dementia to improving mental processing speed and becoming a genius, is the biggest worry wondering the minds of humans. This leads to constant research on mental health and cognitive abilities, searching for ways to prevent, delay or mitigate cognitive decline.
So, researchers have come out suggesting the belief that blueberries are not only beneficial to your immune system and overall physical health, but they can actually have an impact on your mental health. The anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries are believed to be able to boost brain power, reduce dementia, and improve processing speed in adults with mild cognitive decline.
Numerous studies also point out that antioxidants like flavonoids in blueberries have a tremendous effect on overall brain health. They have a direct effect on memory, learning, and general cognitive function, including reasoning skills, decision-making, verbal comprehension, and numerical ability. These same studies also believe that the consumption of flavonoids may help slow the decline in mental facility that is often seen with aging and might also provide protection against disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Now, one interesting fact about blueberries and mental health is that there are studies claiming that consuming blueberries can actually help with depression. Indicating that eating blueberries can help reduce the genetic and biochemical drivers behind depression and suicidal tendencies linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But again, it is good to remember that these are all studies and just studies, no matter how legitimate or vague they appear. It’s not advised to consume blueberries expecting to solve a specific medical disorder.
Maintain healthy digestion
The insoluble fibres in blueberries are good for your digestive system. They help avoid constipation which to a healthy regular waste elimination. Their soluble fibre absorbs water and adds bulk to your stool, helping prevent diarrhoea. And the tannins in blueberries also help in reducing digestive tract inflammation. All these also make blueberries one of the best snacks for weight loss since they can keep your digestive system functioning normally while fasting through your weight loss journey.
Help in weight loss
It’s believed that a cup of blueberries is the all-in-one superfood you need for weight loss. They are low in calories but packed with vitamins and nutrients. Their nutritional value and health benefits should be self-explanatory for them to become your first choice of healthy foods for weight loss.
They are low in calories, with a 100 grams of blueberries containing 56 to 59 grams. Rich in fibre, which promotes better and healthier digestion by preventing constipation, and bloating and also enhancing the absorption of nutrients. And more to that, keeping you full to prevent overeating which is essential in weight loss. They are packed with vitamins, especially vitamin C, which plays a great role in the healing process of the body and improving metabolism needed for weight loss. So, consuming blueberries means excess body fat gone, belly fat gone. A special point to note is that they also contain natural carbs which are a great source of energy, especially for those going through fasting, you need that energy to take you through. Blueberries give you that, and all from natural carbs, not refined.
So, if you want to stay healthy, improve your overall health. If you want to lose weight, you need a sweet healthy snack but are afraid of diabetes, gaining weight, getting sick and all that comes with bad eating habits. Blueberries should be one of your first choices. But still, they can’t be used as a form of medication for any clinical condition. They are just fruits, enjoy them. If you have a problem, talk to your physician.