Last Updated on March 21, 2021
What Are Blueberries
Blueberries refer to perennial flowering plants that produce blue or purple berries, which are also known as blueberries. The blueberry plant falls within the Cyanococcus section of the Vaccinium genus, the same genus that includes bilberries, cranberries, Madeira blueberries, and huckleberries.
This article shall focus on the potential health benefits of consuming blueberries, but first things first.
The blueberry plant is native to North America. The plant has two varieties, depending on whether it’s cultivated or grows in the wild. Cultivated blueberries fall under the highbush variety, whereas wild blueberries are classified under the lowbush variety.
Mature blueberry plants vary in size from 4 inches to 13 feet. In addition to the blueberry plant, various other members of the Vaccinium genus also produce edible berries, most of which are usually blue.
Now, blueberries (berries produced by the blueberry plant) are famous for their delectable taste. These berries also come with a host of health and nutritional benefits, most of which are attributed to their high content of dietary fiber and powerful antioxidants.
Blueberries’ Nutritional Profile
One cup of blueberries contains the following nutritional elements;
• 84 calories
• 1 gram of protein
• 4 grams of fiber
• 15 grams of sugar
• 21 grams of carbohydrate
In addition to the above nutrients, the same quantity of blueberries contains several other minerals, including Vitamins C, E, and K, as well as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Most notably, a cup of blueberries contains ZERO fats.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
1. Optimize Your Workouts
Professional athletes and fitness freaks all over the world are always looking for safer ways to enhance their performance. But without conducting your due diligence, you may end up with a supposed performance-enhancing supplement that leaves you nursing serious side effects.
Thankfully, you can turn onto blueberries if you’re looking for an effective way to boost your workouts naturally. Blueberries optimize your workouts by mediating inflammation and soreness in your muscles, occasioned by oxidative stress in the muscle tissues.
Blueberries can also accelerate muscle recovery after engaging in strenuous leg exercises. That makes them highly effective against Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
DOMS refers to the pain and soreness that you experience in your muscles between 24 and 72 hours of engaging in strenuous workouts. Although it usually relieves itself, DOMS can set you back with your workouts while it lasts.
By reducing the severity of DOMS, blueberries allow you to engage in strenuous exercises without worrying about your workouts suffering downtimes due to fatigue and muscle soreness.
2. Aid in Digestion
Nearly all plant-based foods are loaded with dietary fiber, and blueberries are no exception. A cup of blueberries provides as much as 4 grams of fiber.
Blueberry fiber nourishes gut-friendly bacteria and microbes, which are collectively referred to as gastrointestinal microflora. By nourishing your gastrointestinal microflora, blueberries help to prevent a wide range of digestive diseases.
Another way the fiber content in blueberries aid digestion is by bulking of stool. That role is especially played by insoluble fiber.
Much of the insoluble fiber passes through your stomach undigested. As a result, it bulks up your stool, thereby increasing the frequency of your bowel movements. That process is necessary for reliving issues like constipation and bowel incontinence.
3. Boost Immunity
We’ve already examined the role that blueberry fiber plays in supplying your GI microflora with the nutrients that they need to survive. But did you know that up to 60 – 80% of your immune system comes from your GI microflora?
So, in addition to aiding digestion, fiber-rich foods like blueberries also play a fundamental role in boosting your immunity. But the immune-boosting properties of blueberries don’t just emanate from its fiber content. Blueberries also contain powerful antioxidants, including the flavonoid anthocyanin.
Anthocyanin is the compound that gives blueberries (and other plants) their darker pigment. The compound also contains antioxidant properties that might help to keep various chronic conditions at bay. Anthocyanins have even been shown to reverse oxidative DNA damage, which is one of the primary causes of aging as well as chronic diseases like cancer.
4. Nourish Your Skin
The antioxidants in blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent or treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne and skin cancer.
These antioxidants also keep your skin safe from the damage caused by various cellular stressors. Therefore, consuming blueberries regularly can help to decelerate the aging process by preventing the markers of premature aging, such as wrinkling and damage from overexposure to sunlight.
Besides its powerful antioxidants, blueberries also contain other skin-friendly elements like iron and zinc.
5. Support Your Bones
Blueberries are also packed with essential minerals that have been shown to help promote stronger and healthier bones. Examples of such minerals include vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium.
If you’re unusually prone to bone fractures or frequently suffer from chronic diseases that cause bone wastage, then it’s about time you started supplementing with blueberries.
In addition to strengthening your bones, calcium and magnesium are also useful in supporting your teeth and gums.
6. Improve Your Heart’s Health
Blueberries contain compounds that can lower blood pressure, including anthocyanins. Generally, anthocyanins lower blood pressure by improving the cellular functions that are responsible for blood pressure regulation.
Numerous studies conducted on the benefits of anthocyanins for high blood pressure patients have reported some pretty inspiring findings. For instance, an 8-week study attempted to investigate the effects of blueberries on participants with obesity and other risk factors for heart disease.
At the end of the study, researchers noted a 4 – 6% drop in blood pressure among participants that consumed 50 grams of blueberries every day throughout the period.
Other studies have reported similar findings, with some suggesting that anthocyanins could be particularly beneficial in lowering blood pressure among postmenopausal women.
Another way blueberries might support your heart’s health is by preventing the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
7. Improve Your Kidney Health
Blueberries might also improve your kidney’s health, mostly by fighting diseases like urinary tract infection (UTI). When it comes to treating UTI, cranberries receive more spotlight compared to blueberries.
However, it’s worth noting that these berries belong in the same genus and contain many similar active compounds. Therefore, medical researchers believe that blueberries could also offer therapeutic properties for UTI patients.
Like cranberries, blueberries contain substances known as anti-adhesives, which reduce the risks of UTI by preventing the bacteria E. coli from binding onto your bladder walls.
8. Improve Brain Function
The oxidative stress caused by free radicals in body cells is one of the major causes of brain atrophy, particularly if the damage targets brain cells.
Various animal studies suggest that blueberries may impact the regions of your brain that are responsible for intelligence. According to the studies, these berries produce anti-aging effects on your brain neurons, resulting in improvements of cell signaling.
Blueberries also have positive impacts on the parts of the brain that are essential for memory and cognitive functions.
Blueberries are not only sweet and delicious. They are also packed with essential minerals that support our digestive and immune system, as well as various physiological processes.