5 Health Benefits of Blueberries

There are so many health benefits when you add this powerhouse berry to your meals and snacks.

Often referred to as the king of antioxidants, blueberries are a powerhouse fruit with impressive wellness benefits. Here are five ways blueberries help protect your health and easy ways to incorporate them into meals, snacks, and drinks.

Rich in Nutrients

One cup of fresh blueberries contains 85 calories, 0.7 grams of protein, no fat, and about 15 grams of carbohydrate, according to the USDA. That same portion also packs about 3 ounces of water, and 8.1 milligrams of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is important for your skin and bones, according to MedlinePlus.

Blueberries also provide 86 milligrams of potassium, 13 milligrams of phosphorous, and 12 milligrams of calcium, according to the USDA.

Protects Against Disease

Blueberries have powerful antioxidant capabilities. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent cell damage, according to MedlinePlus. A single serving of blueberries has more antioxidant capacity than a serving of plums, strawberries, or cranberries, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to curb inflammation and reduce oxidative stress, according to this article from 2017 in Food & Function.

A 2018 study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences concludes that blueberries may be one of the best functional fruits, due to the protective activity of their anthocyanin and polyphenol antioxidants.

Blueberries can also help to regulate blood pressure as well as reduce the risk of diabetes, according to the USDA.

Improves Heart Health

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, and blueberries may offer some potent protection. According to this article from 2018 in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, due to blueberry's ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, blueberries protect against artery hardening, a condition that ups the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A study from 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of consuming one cup of blueberries a day to a placebo in people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is when someone has risk factors for certain diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, according to MedlinePlus. The blueberry eaters experienced sustained improvements in artery function, including reduced stiffness, as well as positive changes in cholesterol profiles. The results led researchers to conclude that blueberries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce heart disease risk.

Enhances Brain Function

A 2019 analysis from The Journals of Gerontology examined the relationship between blueberries and cognitive performance. The review found that blueberries have been shown to improve memory and psychomotor function in older healthy adults and adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Berries are also the only fruit singled out in the MIND Diet, which combines aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to create an eating plan focused on brain health—specifically the prevention of dementia and age-related cognitive decline, according to Harvard Health.

Aids in Muscle Recovery

The wear and tear that is put on muscles during exercise can trigger exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). According to this study from 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, what athletes eat before and/or after exercise can potentially offset EIMD. In the study athletes consumed either a blueberry smoothie or a placebo drink of a similar antioxidant capacity before and then after EIMD, which was induced by strenuous strength training.

Researchers found a faster rate of muscle strength recovery in the blueberry intervention group, concluding that blueberry consumption triggers adaptive events in the body that accelerate muscle repair.

How To Eat Frozen Blueberries Year-round

Blueberries deserve a place in your diet, even when they're out of season. To enjoy them during all 12 months of the year, you can freeze fresh blueberries or buy frozen bags with no added ingredients. If you have a bounty of fresh berries from your local farmer's market or store, freeze what you can't eat.

Here's how to freeze them: Wash the berries and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet so they don't touch and clump together. Freeze for 30 minutes, remove, and then transfer to freezer bags. Remove as much of the air as possible then seal, label, and freeze. Your stash will keep for about six months. Add frozen blueberries to smoothies, or thaw in the refrigerator to add to anything from oatmeal to garden salads.

How To Eat More Blueberries

You can add blueberries to your beverages by tossing slightly mashed blueberries into flat or sparkling water, along with fresh mint or basil. Or you can freeze them in ice cubes to add color and nutrients to your glass.

Or you can incorporate blueberries into foods like overnight oats and parfaits, pancakes, baked goods, acai bowls, and chia puddings.

For a quick and nourishing treat, make a simple mock cobbler. Warm the berries on the stovetop over low heat with freshly grated ginger, and top with a crumble made from a combo of almond butter, oats, and cinnamon.

Blueberries also work well in savory dishes. Add them to hot or chilled wild rice or quinoa, kale salad, black bean tacos, or jam and chutney made with onions and herbs.

Summary

Blueberries are packed with health benefits that can improve the health of your brain, heart, and muscles. Not only that but they're filled with antioxidants that can protect against diseases like cancer and diabetes. However you enjoy them, whether you add them to your smoothies or oatmeal, or just eat them out of the carton, they will make a nutritious and delicious addition to your diet.

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