On pancakes, in smoothies, on salads, or all on their own… no matter how you eat these tiny bursts of flavor, you’re doing your body a favor. There are a ton of health benefits of blueberries – with the added bonus that they taste fantastic!
Many experts consider blueberries a superfood because of their many amazing health benefits, and they’re all backed by science!
Let’s dive in!
Health Benefits of Blueberries
As we mentioned, it’s super easy to add more blueberries to your diet. And there are so many reasons to do so. They may be small, but you know what they say: good things come in small packages!!
Here’s why you should add more of these tiny powerhouse berries to your diet:
1. Antioxidant Rich
Of all the fruits on the planet, blueberries are thought to be the most antioxidant rich. And that’s a really good thing.
Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals. Those free radicals cause something called oxidative stress, and this damages your cells and contributes to aging and degenerative diseases like cancer.
According to research, blueberries increase antioxidant levels in your body, thus reducing the negative impact of free radicals. There are lots of different antioxidants, but the main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols called flavonoids. In blueberries specifically, the flavanoids doing a lot of the heavy lifting are called anthocyanin, and sciences says these are to thank for most of the health benefits of blueberries. Go Anthocyanins!!
2. Packed with Nutrients
Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries on the planet. They’re full to bursting with various vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. For example, just 1 cup of blueberries contains:
- 24% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C
- 25% of your RDI of manganese
- 36% of your RDI of vitamin K
But that’s not all. Blueberries also contain:
And as an added bonus, while that cup of blueberries if full of healthy nutrients, it’s not full of calories. One cup contains only 84 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates!
3. Great for Skin Health
The antioxidants in blueberries combat free radicals from sun exposure. And we all know that the sun is not necessarily doing our skin any favors. Antioxidants can help fight the damage the sun does to the skin over time and can help slow down the aging process. The zinc and iron in blueberries are also great for the skin.
That’s not all though. Your skin needs collagen to stay healthy – it’s the support system of the skin. But collagen relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient, and thankfully blueberries have vitamin C in spades. Vitamin C may also improve collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and enhance your overall skin texture.
4. Can Help Manage Diabetes (& Lower the Risk)
When it comes to diabetes, sugar intake and managing sugar levels is super important. Thankfully, studies show us that blueberries have anti-diabetes effects – improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
How? Well, compared to other fruits, blueberries provide moderate amounts of sugar – about 15 grams per cup. That said, when we’re talking about blood sugar control, the bioactive compounds in blueberries seem to outweigh any negative impacts of the sugar.
And remember those anthocyanins we mentioned earlier? Well, they’re doing double duty here. Research shows that anthocyanins in blueberries have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
5. May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor in heart disease. Thankfully, research shows us that these little blue babies can have great benefits for people with high blood pressure.
First off, research suggests that diets low in potassium, magnesium, and calcium are associated with higher blood pressure. Since blueberries contain all of these nutrients, adding them to your diet is a no-brainer. Plus, blueberries have zero sodium, and low sodium is key in maintaining low blood pressure.
But even more than that, one particular study found that obese people with a high risk of heart disease had a 4-6% reduction in blood pressure after eating only 50 grams of blueberries per day. That’s less than half a cup!
6. Help Prevent the Risk of Heart Disease
So we now know that low blood pressure reduces your risk for heart disease, but that’s just one factor in developing the condition. And we also blueberries are useful in doing that. But when it comes to your heart, that’s not all blueberries can do.
Blueberries can directly impact heart disease in particular, and research shows that eating fruits rich in anthocyanins (READ BLUEBERRIES!!) is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack.
In fact, one such study of 93000 female nurses over an 18 years period found that eating 2 anthocyanin-rich foods, blueberries and strawberries, on a regular basis was associated with a decreased risk of myocardial infarction compared to those who ate fewer than 3 servings a week.
In addition to this, the antioxidants in blueberries are linked to reduced levels of oxidized LDL (bad cholesterol), which is a critical factor in reducing the risk of heart disease.
7. Help Maintain Healthy Bones
Remember all those nutrients we mentioned earlier? A ton of them (calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, vitamin K) are important in keeping bones healthy and strong.
Furthermore, 2 of those (iron and zinc) are crucial for maintaining the strength and elasticity of your bones and joints. And, adequate vitamin K intake helps with calcium absorption and may reduce calcium loss, which is also essential for bone health. .
8. Boost Brain Health
Last but definitely not least, blueberries are great for your brain! This is mainly because of the nutrient pterostilbene. This fat-loving (lipophilic) antioxidant can pass through that hard-to-penetrate blood-brain barrier, helping to keep inflammation in check and fighting free radicals.
Plus, pterostilbene can boost your brain’s release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends messages throughout the brain’s cells. It plays a role in how you feel pleasure, improves your ability to think and plan, and helps you focus, stay motivated, and learn new things. Pterostilbene has also been shown to improve and boost memory!
Not Just Blueberries
Blueberries may be at the top of the list when it comes to health benefits, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only berry that’s good for you.
Here are a few more reasons to add a bunch of different berries to your daily diet:
- Strawberries – super high in vitamin C, and a good source of manganese. Strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress, and they’ve been linked to a lower risk of diabetes and lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood!
- Raspberries – rich in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese; high in antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins. Raspberries have been shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
- Cranberries – good source of vitamin C and manganese, but by far the best-known health benefit of cranberries is their ability to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Goji berries – high in vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and zeaxanthin. Great for eye health, and shown to have potent antioxidant properties.
So, go forth and berry – it’s so good for your health!