The Mighty Blueberry
Updated: Feb 27
Growing up, I wasn't aware of blueberries and didn't eat them. But they have become a favourite in our home. Along with strawberries and baby tomatoes, my daughter loves snacking on them. We don't often buy sugary sweets or chocolate, so these little flavour-packed juice pockets are much loved and a great way to boost our nutrition as snacks.
Besides their versatility and yumminess, here are some other reasons why we LOVE blueberries:
Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries. For example, a 1 cup / 148-gram serving of blueberries contains:
Fibre: 4 grams
Vitamin C: 24% of recommended daily allowance/intake
Vitamin K: 36%
Vitamin B6:5% of recommended daily allowance/intake
Potassium: 3% of recommended daily allowance/intake
An entire cup contains only 85 calories/352kcals with 15-20 grams of carbohydrates, 1.1 grams of protein and 14.7 grams of sugar.
Vitamin C supports our immune system and healthy skin, and Vitamin K helps our bones and Manganese. In addition, it promotes collagen production for healthy skin and joints.
Blueberries also contain folate, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamin E! They are stuffed with antioxidants – specifically, a flavonoid called anthocyanin- giving blueberries many health benefits and colour.
King of anti-oxidants with anti-ageing and protection powers
A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences concluded that blueberries might be one of the best functional fruits. These tiny berries have been shown to have one of the highest antioxidant benefits due to the protective activity of anthocyanin and polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids.
Oxidative DNA damage is an unavoidable part of everyday life that happens thousands of times per day in the cells of our bodies. It is partially the reason why we grow older. DNA damage is also involved in developing more severe diseases such as cancer.
Blueberries are high in antioxidants; they can neutralise some free radicals that damage your DNA. These antioxidants jump in, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation where needed and fending off DNA damage and ageing. This may help prevent more serious diseases.
Several studies suggest that blueberries and blueberry juice reduce DNA damage, a leading driver of ageing and cancer. Because of these anti-oxidative effects, blueberries may also be helpful after exercise, leading to muscle aches and fatigue. Blueberry can relieve and lessen the damage that occurs, reducing soreness.
Blueberries can improve heart health.
Oxidative damage is not limited to our cells and DNA. Still, it is also a problem when LDL cholesterol is oxidised, and one of the steps in developing heart disease.
In one study, consuming one cup of blueberries per day over a six-month period led to sustained improvements in artery function & health, reduced stiffness, and improved cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome. This makes blueberries a definite inclusion in a heart-healthy diet. In other studies eating between 50 and 75 grams of blueberries with a main meal, LDL oxidation decreased by as much as 27% over 8 weeks.
Blueberries may lower blood pressure.
Blueberries benefit those with high blood pressure, a significant risk factor for heart disease. In several studies, blueberries have had similar effects and showed a 4-6% reduction in blood pressure when eating 50 grams of blueberries per day.
The anthocyanins in blueberries improve the function of the cells which line blood vessels and help blood flow and blood pressure regulation. Some researchers believe blueberries may prevent hypertension entirely. So whilst you may have to avoid some foods when dealing with high blood pressure, blueberries should be at the top of your shopping list.
Blueberries for the brain
Oxidative stress can also accelerate our brain's ageing and reduce effective and efficient brain function.
Reviews of previous studies have shown that blueberries may improve delayed memory and executive function in children and older healthy adults or those with mild impaired cognitive function. This means blueberries can help us recall information and have long-term memory retention. For example, in one 20-year study of over 16,000 older adults, adults eating more blueberries and strawberries experienced the slowest rates of cognitive decline.
Animal studies showed the antioxidants in blueberries may affect areas of your brain that are essential for intelligence, helping our neurons and leading to better cell signalling. Human studies have also shown benefits within 12 weeks of consuming blueberry juice daily.
Blueberries may help with diabetes and insulin resistance.
Blueberries provide medium amounts of sugar compared to other fruits. Still, the constituents' benefits in blueberries outweigh any negative sugar impact on blood sugar control. The anthocyanins in blueberries have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, reducing insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar levels.
Weight loss and healthy digestion
Blueberries are high in fibre, and this can help maintain healthy digestion and reduce constipation. Fibre also helps with feeling full, which helps with eating less, helping with weight loss efforts.
Fighting urinary tract infections
Women often deal with urinary tract infections (UTIs). It was always believed that the acidity of cranberry juice treated UTIs. Still, modern research shows the anti-adhesives in cranberry juice prevent bacteria from infecting the bladder. Blueberries have these same anti-adhesives and can, and blueberries are believed to be effective too.
Healthy bones & skin
Blueberries contain several minerals and vitamins that support building and maintaining healthy bones. Low vitamin K levels have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture, as vitamin K intake helps improve calcium absorption. Our bodies rely on vitamin C to function effectively. Vitamin C protects our skin's elasticity and prevents UV and environmental pollution damage.
Eat more blueberries
Blueberries freeze well, making them easy to get and eat the whole year. Blueberries are a superfood, nutritious and versatile. They are easy to integrate into your diet, in smoothies, salads, or as a snack.
WANT TO EAT MORE BLUEBERRIES, TRY OVERNIGHT OATS WITH BLUEBERRIES:
RECIPE: Easy Blueberry Overnight Oats
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 to 1/3 cup of rolled oats or oatmeal
1/2 to 2/3 cup milk or non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries - you can use frozen blueberries, but reduce the amount of milk used
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably organic
Raw honey or maple syrup to taste
A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
Mix it all and spoon it into a 500ml jar or bowl.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Eat as is, or sprinkle a spoon or two of your favourite granola for extra crunch.
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