Health Benefits of Blueberries Explained: The Beneficial Berry
Table of Contents
I have always loved blueberries and I have fond memories of the various dessert dishes and sweet treats that my mother would make with them. I suppose there was just something about their taste and texture that always appealed to me and even as a picky eater, I would regularly find myself raiding the fridge in hopes of finding a selection of fresh blueberries or some other baked good my mother had made with them.
My craving for blueberries hasn’t subsided as I grew up and I always ensure that I have a case of them at home in my fridge or a jar of blueberry jam in the pantry – because I’m a veritable blueberry addict! However, one thing I was never aware of whilst growing up was that besides tasting delicious, blueberries have incredible health benefits and can help to keep you in tip top health – provided of course that you eat a healthy and balanced diet and get enough exercise.
What really surprised me was just how much of a variety these little natural treats actually provided in terms of health benefits and how quickly they could affect your system. In other words, including blueberries in your diet on a regular basis can really help to speed up the results you may be expecting from other products. Whether it’s anti-aging products, flushing out toxins during a detox or helping you with weight loss during a diet, blueberries can provide a notable difference in the speed and quality of the results.
I wasn’t interested in leading a natural or holistic lifestyle for quite a long time. It was only once I read an article on the dangers of processed foods during my time at university that I realized two important factors in keeping healthy and preventing the formation of illnesses and diseases. What we eat and how we cope with stress.
I was fascinated by this knowledge and have since tried to find a variety of natural alternatives to many of the conventional pharmaceutical products that we use on a regular basis. I was discovering natural and healthy ways to prevent the formation of illness and disease – something that is often neglected in modern medicine.
So as we would all be more likely to agree that prevention is a lot better than the cure, read this article with that in mind and you’ll be able to unlock the door to a healthier, cheaper and more natural life. Both in terms of your own health and your family’s health – blueberries are one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
What Are Blueberries? Where Do They Come From?
Blueberries are one of the few berry varieties that are native to North America and have formed an important part of native american culture for centuries, however due to the advent in modern agricultural practices, they are now cultivated in parts of Europe, Asia and countries in the southern hemisphere including parts of South America, South Africa and New Zealand.
They are closely related to cranberries and bilberries and are essentially the fruit of a perennial shrub that tends to bare fruit between May and August in the northern hemisphere. It’s best to buy them during this time frame as they’re in season and a lot fresher even though they are available year-round due to modern agricultural practices.
There are a variety of different blueberry species that occur in different regions of the world and each species is specific to the area that they grow in and will have slightly different characteristics as a result thereof. Most highbush blueberries (the kind most of us know as the ‘typical’ blueberry) tend to prefer cooler climate and higher altitudes and are cultivated in the upper parts of Northern America and Canada. However, Southern Highbush blueberries have also been able to thrive due to the advances in modern agricultural practices in warmer climates and lower altitudes and tend to make up around 10% of global blueberry production.
I would generally recommend sourcing blueberries that grow in your region if possible and always ensure that you buy them when they’re in season and preferably choose a brand that’s certified organic whenever you can. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, but this is the best way to ensure that you’re leading a more natural life (one that’s in line with the cycles of the environment). Plus they’re a lot fresher and therefore a lot healthier. I would recommend buying in bulk during season and freezing them so that you have enough to get you through the off-season period.
Nutrients Found in Blueberries
Blueberries have been hailed as one of the top superfoods to include in your diet in recent times – and for good reason too. One of the main reasons for their immense popularity in recent times can be linked to their tremendous antioxidant content which is great for a variety of different aspects in health care. Not to mention the fact that they’re truly delicious too!
The saying is usually that ‘nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels’ when someone is trying to convince you to eat something that’s healthy but tastes weird or simply awful, and in general, most people tend to assume that healthy food must taste weird. So why bother eating healthy when you can keep munching down on fatty, oily, processed fast-food like the rest of society? Thankfully, blueberries taste divine and keep us in a good, healthy condition.
The sheer variety of different antioxidants that are contained within a single blueberry will shock you. While I can provide you with a list of all them (most of which are too complicated to pronounce let alone truly understand – at least in a short form article such as this), you’ll simply have to trust me and all the health food fanatics out there about their effectiveness in terms of ridding the body of harmful toxins.
However, besides the long and complicated list of antioxidants found in these all-natural treats, blueberries are also a rich source of vitamin C and K (close to the same amount of vitamin C as strawberries actually) as well as minerals such as manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and copper. In short, they provide a solid amount of dietary fiber to your everyday meal plan.
They’re perfect for breakfast, lunch and dessert and can be included in many dishes with a little creativity and planning. I would definitely recommend that every household have a stash of these amazing natural detoxifiers in their kitchen, freezer or pantry.
Blueberries for Bone Health
The commonly accepted myth is that milk is one of the greatest ways of improving bone health but, like so many urban legends, this is totally untrue. I’m not saying that milk in small amounts can’t help towards improving bone health and quality, rather, as recent studies have shown, it has a variety of different negative effects on your body with regular consumption over a longer period of time and is not as great a source of calcium as many believe it is.
In truth, you would be better off including a large amount of blueberries in your diet on a regular basis as a means of improving bone health. The high amount of iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K found in blueberries does a lot more to promote strong and healthy bones.
The iron and zinc found in blueberries help to strengthen and maintain the elasticity of both bones and joints which is essential for preventing bone related pain and issues like arthritis from occurring later in life. By including an adequate intake of vitamin K in you can increase your bodies ability to absorb calcium (a crucial element in maintaining and promoting healthy, strong bones) as well as preventing calcium loss over time.
So instead of spending as much money as you may already do on milk for the week, cut it out of your diet and take it off your budget for good. Spend that money on blueberries if you’re looking for a good source of calcium and are concerned about maintaining healthy bones.
Blueberries for Anti-Aging
As you may or may not know, one of the main causes for increased signs of aging is directly linked to the large amount of synthetic chemicals that we’re exposed to on a regular basis and the free radicals that occur in our bodies as a result. Other than the simple passing of time, the chemicals contained in our lifestyles these days have become an issue of great concern.
Free radicals are essentially oxidized molecules that enter our body through the pores of our skin or form within our body from the foods we eat during the digestive process. They are not necessarily harmful on their own, but once they’re in our bodies, they tend to bond with our pre-existing molecules (including our DNA) and can then cause tremendous, chain-reaction like damage once they’re triggered.
They have been linked to the formation of cancer and have a direct effect on the aging process as they tend to cause cell degeneration and can lead to the death of existing skin tissue, leading to the formation of wrinkles, dark spots around the eyes and dry, flaky patches of skin. The best way to prevent this damage is to avoid products with toxic chemicals such as parabens, alcohol-based solvents, sodium lauryl sulfate and Phthalates to name a few.
This could mean chucking out most of the hair care and beauty or skin care products that you have in your home and opting for natural alternatives.
I would also recommend including a great deal of foods that are packed with natural antioxidants (blueberries, pecan nuts, broccoli, kidney beans, dark chocolate and goji berries) in order to trap the free radicals before they can bond with the cells in your body and ultimately make it easier for you to flush them out of your system altogether.
This is best done with exercise as it causes you to sweat the toxins out as well as releasing endorphins that will make you feel good and help to relieve stress – another progenitor for the symptoms of aging.
Blueberries for Memory and Brain Power
While little is really known about the exact effects of blueberries in relation to the functions of our brain with regards to our ability to memorize things, recent studies on humans for first time regarding blueberries effects on the cognitive functions of our brain have shown positive results.
A test based over a 12 week time frame on people between the age of 60 – 80 was conducted and the group was split into two: one group received blueberry in powder form and the other, a placebo.
A series of standardised cognitive tests were conducted before the trial period and then the same tests were done afterwards. Both groups were instructed to take roughly 2 to 2 ½ cups of the powder per day and after the time period had passed, the results proved that those who were taking the real blueberry powder performed better in the test than they did before taking the blueberry powder.
Scientists have speculated that it may have something to do with the rich and varied antioxidant content found in blueberries and their ability to help prevent oxidative damage on the nerve cells in our brain – which are naturally very prone to oxygen damage.
So by starting early, you can improve your memory and cognitive function as well as preventing the onset of cognitive disorders that tend to happen during the later half of our lives.
Blueberries for Digestion and Weight loss
One of the main factors that makes blueberries such an effective tool at helping to improve and regulate our digestive system is the high amount of fiber contained in each berry. On average, blueberries contain roughly 2.4 grams of fiber per 100 gram serving and when you consider that the recommended dosage for men is around 32 – 38 grams of fiber a day, and 25 to 30 grams for women, this is a significant amount of your daily recommended intake and can easily be combined with other foods (such as cereals, baked goods and shakes) to make up the daily dosage.
By including enough fiber in your diet, you can ensure that your bowel movements will be healthy and regular and that you will be able to flush out toxins and excess fat quickly and effectively – which all play an important role in affecting overall weight loss as well (think energy-in vs. energy-out ratio here).
A high fiber diet will also help to prevent constipation which may not be directly linked to weight loss, but is definitely a sign that you may need to treat your digestive system a bit better.
Increased amounts of fiber in your diet will also help to reduce your appetite and hunger pangs ultimately allowing you to reduce the amount of food you eat. Thereby you can limit or regulate the amount of excess fat you have in your body.
Blueberries have also shown positive results in terms of treating and managing both diabetes and heart disease. The high amount of fiber found in blueberries can also help to remove low density lipoproteins from the bloodstream. These are basically ‘bad fats’ that tend to block up the veins and arteries and can lead to low blood pressure and even heart disease when left untreated.
With regards to diabetes, the natural fiber content in blueberries also helps to reduce the blood glucose levels in the blood of those affected by type 1 diabetes and people suffering from type two diabetes will benefit from the increased blood sugar levels and ultimately increased insulin.
How to Get Your Kids To Eat Blueberries
Generally, most children tend to take to blueberries pretty well, but if you’re struggling to get your child to enjoy this natural superfood, here’s a recipe that’s bound to get them asking for more. It’s also a tasty addition to your own daily diet and will be sure to get the whole family’s mouth watering.
Blueberry Lemon Mini Muffins – What you need:
- 1 1/2 cups oat flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda.
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder.
- 1 lemon.
- 1 egg.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- 1 banana, mashed.
- 2 tbsp maple syrup.
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk.
- 1 cup frozen blueberries.
- Coconut Oil spray.
Preheat oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) and while the oven is heating up, combine all the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients except for the blueberries. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well.
Whilst stirring, gently add and fold in the blueberries – the key is to be slow and steady here. Spray the coconut oil into a baking tray and pour the batter into the suitable sections of the tray. Once the oven is ready, put the tray in and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe is suitable for a dozen mini muffins, but if you’d like more, simply double the amounts.
In short, if you haven’t been including blueberries into your regular diet you’ve been missing out big time. It’s very rare to find natural products that are both tasty and incredibly healthy – blueberries are the synthesis of these two elements and are perfect for the whole family.
While it may be true that they’re costly, they’re a lot less expensive than vitamin or mineral supplements and cutting out most of the processed or unhealthy foods that we tend to buy on a regular basis can make up the difference in terms of your monthly budget. Finally good health can taste as good as it feels!