Blueberries are a dense source of nutrient and sweet treat.
They are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients required for a perfect health. As they are low in calorie, sweet to taste and rich in nutrient they become better health companion.
With abundant nutrients, they surely are a great companion for health loaded with health benefits.
Let’s look over the nutritional value and benefits they can provide.
1. They Are Good Source of Nutrients
Blueberries are a great source of healthy nutrients along with vitamin and minerals.
A cup of raw blueberries (148g) provides (% daily value): (1)
- Dietary fiber – 3.6g (14%)
- Protein – 1.1 g (2%)
- Vitamin C – 14.4mg (24%)
- Vitamin K – 28.6 mcg (36%)
- Vitamin B6 – 0.1mg (4%)
A cup of blueberries only contains 84.4 calorie which is 4% of daily value. With a low calorie and abundant nutrients, they are best for a snack.
148 grams of blueberries contains 125 grams water, and its low sugar contents make it healthier food.
They also contain other healthy vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, and betaine.
They also contain other healthy minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper, with no sodium.
Wrap up: Blueberries are low in calorie but provides a wide range of vitamin and minerals.
2. They Also Contain High Amount of Antioxidant and Phytonutrients
Antioxidants are nutrients that can prevent damage to healthy cells which are responsible for aging and disease like cancer. (4)
Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients which can protect free radicals and inflammation.
The key phytonutrients of Blueberries are: (5)
- Anthocyanins – malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, peonidins, petunidin
- Hydroxycinnamic acids and derivatives – caffeic acids, ferulic acids, coumaric acids
- Hydroxybenzoic acids and derivatives – gallic acids, protocatechuic acids
- Flavonols – kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin
- Flavan-3-ols – catechin
- Stilbenoids (phytoalexins) – pterostilbene, resveratrol
The combination of phytonutrient provide blueberries its aroma, flavor, and color.
You can receive 250-460 milligram of total phenols with only 50-60 calories. That’s a great deal for healthy nutrients intake with low calorie.
Blueberry is known for its high anthocyanin compound. Anthocyanin belongs to the family of polyphenols called flavonoid. These phytonutrients provide blueberries their color and many of health-boosting effect. (6, 7, 8)
While kaempferol, quercetin, resveratrol, and other phytonutrients are on the list. With a whole list of phytonutrients, they provide a great antioxidant activity and protect from the damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation
Blueberries also contain antioxidants like Vitamin C (24% of daily value) and Vitamin K (36% of daily value).
Wrap up: Blueberries contains a high value of antioxidants and phytonutrients which provide it high antioxidant capacity.
3. They Can Protect From Cancer
High intake of vegetables and fruits are associated with decreased risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases, are due to antioxidants.
Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients which provides them with high antioxidant activity. With high antioxidant activity, they protect the DNA damage from oxidative stress. (13)
Blueberry has an anti-cancer effect due to its some of the effects like; (14)
- Prevent carcinogenesis
- Inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory molecules
- Prevent DNA damage
- Stops cancer cell division (cell proliferation)
- Kill cancer cells (apoptosis)
As per estimation, nearly 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their future. (15)
The risk of cancer is increasing due to increased damage through oxidative stress and inflammation. If the damage through them are brought in control the risk of cancer also decreases.
Foods rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients are the best hope to lower the risk.
Blueberries are looked like a potential superfood to provide protection from cancer. (16)
Wrap up: Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients which protect from the leading cause of cancer. Foods like blueberries are looked like the potential solution to fight cancer.
4. Protects Against Heart Disease
Heart disease is one killer around the world. (17)
For the deadly disease, dietary intake is the best solution to cut the risk and recover from heart disease.
Among that dietary intake, nutrient-rich blueberries also have a potential edge. Like other healthy food, it also helps to cut the risk of heart disease by:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol level
- Lowering homocysteine
- Preventing cholesterol damage in blood and hardening of arteries
Let’s have a look over the benefits of blueberries to heart
1. Lower Blood Pressure
Blueberries contain no sodium which makes it a healthier option for heart health. High sodium is responsible for increased blood pressure.
It also contains blood pressure lowering nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
High intake of potassium can lower blood pressure and are associated with a 24% lower risk of stroke. (18)
It can increase the nitric oxide which lowers the blood pressure and improves blood flow. (19)
Oxidative stress in the kidney and blood vessel can contribute to hypertension. The antioxidant and phytonutrients (anthocyanin) can lower the oxidative stress thus lowering the blood pressure. (20)
2. Lower Cholesterol
Blueberries are great food as it contains no cholesterol.
While the fiber intake through blueberries can lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol level in blood. It prevents the absorption of cholesterol level as they trap them in the intestine and eliminates them. (21)
3. Lower Homocysteine
Homocysteine is a common amino acid in the blood. Meat is the source from where we get homocysteine.
A buildup of homocysteine in the blood vessel can lead to a heart problem. (22)
Vitamin B6 and folate in the blueberries prevent the buildup of homocysteine in the blood thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. (23)
4. Prevent Cholesterol Damage and Hardening of Arteries
Cholesterol-lowering effect of blueberry is responsible for a healthy heart.
With lowering cholesterol level, blueberries also provide protection to cholesterol in the arteries.
The antioxidant and phytonutrients protect the LDL cholesterol from damage thus prevent plaque buildup. Plague buildup in arteries can block the flow of blood which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. (24)
The antioxidant activity protects oxidation of LDL cholesterol and arteries.
Damage to arteries leads to hardening of arteries while with plaque buildup can lead to a health problem known as atherosclerosis.
A study found that consumption of blueberries for 8 weeks lower the risk of heart disease by 27%, by promoting some factors like
- Lowering cholesterol
- Controlling oxidative stress and inflammation
- Decreasing oxidation of LDL cholesterol
- Decreasing systolic and diastolic blood pressure
Yet there are many antioxidant and phytonutrients present, the polyphenol “anthocyanin” is said to provide the beneficial effect,
Wrap up: Blueberries lower cholesterol level, prevent oxidation of cholesterol, lower homocysteine and blood pressure, all factors promoting a healthy heart.
5. Improves Brain Function
The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage because of high metabolic load due to present of poly-unsaturated fatty acid, oxygen and cellular activity.
Diet rich in berries is found to have a neuroprotective effect. Polyphenols in berries provide protection from the neurodegenerative disease like including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and Parkinson’s disease (PD). (27)
They can also revere the age-related decline in the neuronal signal as well as cognitive and motor deficit.
Studies also found that blueberries supplementation (polyphenols) can increase hippocampal plasticity (supports hippocampus development), a brain region associated with learning and memory. (28)
Polyphenol extracts improve brain plasticity and memory performance and may be effective to maintain cognitive functions during aging. (29)
Anthocyanin can cross blood-brain barriers which can be a reason for the beneficial effect on the brain.
Study on rat found that blueberry supplementation increased the anthocyanin level in the cortex, which supports the potential neuroprotective effect. (30)
Glutathione is present in every cell and also known as the master antioxidant.
One of the most important functions of glutathione is; they lower the production of cellular ROS (reactive oxygen species or free radical) which make them a potent antioxidant.
Supplementation of blueberries can increase the glutathione synthesis in brain cells. With a higher level of glutathione in the cell lowers the production of cellular ROS, thus reversing the damage to neurons. (31)
Many studies on rat and human have proved the positive effects of berries on the brain. They can help to protect and improve the function of the brain.
Wrap up: With high polyphenol and other antioxidants, blueberries proves to be the best food for brain health. They can reverse the damage and improve the brain function.
6. Manage Diabetes
Blueberries provide protection from diabetes in three ways.
The fiber benefit:
If you are looking for a low-calorie snack then blueberries will a great option.
A cup of blueberries (148g) contains 125g water and 3.6g fiber which is 14% of daily value in mere 84 calories.
With low calorie and high fiber, it won’t have any negative effect on blood sugar level. While the high fiber content will slow down the release of sugar thus have no major impact on blood sugar.
The Insulin Sensitivity effect:
Insulin resistance is a condition where cells can’t use the insulin effectively thus leaving blood sugar high. With high blood sugar, the risk of diabetes increases and the only solution is to improve insulin sensitivity.
Anthocyanin in blueberries has found to have the anti-diabetic effect. They are found to increase the insulin sensitivity thus helps to manage blood sugar level. (32)
Bioactive compounds in blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women, as per journal published by The Journal of Nutrition. (33)
The Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) effect:
Anthocyanin can stimulate the secretion of Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in the gut after a meal. (34)
- encourage the release of insulin from the pancreas
- increase the volume of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells)
- hold back glucagon release
- reduce appetite
All these roles of GLP-1 can help to control blood sugar efficiently thus can be beneficial in protecting and recovering from diabetes.
Wrap up: With high fiber, insulin sensitivity effect and secretion of Glucagon-like-peptide – blueberries prove to be a complete package for diabetes care.
7. Promotes Weight Loss And Healthy Digestion
As said earlier, blueberry is a best snacking option rather than high calorie processed food.
If you are looking for healthy snacks you can eat fruits and berries as they contain low sugar but are a dense source of nutrients.
The fiber content in blueberries can improve satiety thus cut the need to eat frequently. With higher satiety, you feel full for longer. While the sweet flavor will help to curb your sweet or sugar craving without indulging on unhealthy foods.
While high fiber intake will have a positive impact on digestive health.
Glucagon-like-peptide-1 also have a great impact on obesity as it can improve satiety after a meal. People with low GLP-1 hormone after eating tends to eat more during a meal and are more likely to eat between snacks. (34)
Wrap Up: With high fiber intake can have a positive impact on satiety, and cuts the sugar craving. With increased GLP-1 the satiety improves thus lowers appetite and prevent overeating.
8. Blueberries Strengthen Bone
Blueberries contain nutrients which can help to develop a stronger bone, yet are in a small amount.
You can get nutrients like iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K required to strengthen and maintain bone structure.
Loss of bone strength can due to aging and free radicals, yet blueberries have been found potential to prevent loss of collagen in the bone matrix. (39)
Wrap up: With a small amount of bone-building nutrients and high amount of bone-protecting nutrients, you can prefer blueberry to strengthen your bone.
9. Blueberries Can Be Your Best After Workout Food
Looking for a healthier drink that can cut the time of your recovery, you can surely try blueberries smoothie.
Exercise can increase the rate of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body responsible for muscle soreness and fatigue.
In a study, the female athletes who consumed blueberry recovered faster than the athletes on placebo. (40)
The antioxidant and phytonutrients are found to lower the inflammation and muscle soreness which is estimated for the benefits.
Wrap up: With high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity along with increased nitric acid, the rate of muscle recovery increases.
10. Healthy Skin
A cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of recommended Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is important for the synthesis of collagen a vital molecule for skin health. Enough consumption of Vitamin C can also protect skin from ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage. (43)
With protection from photodamage and increased synthesis of collagen, it can fight wrinkles and provide firm and healthy skin.
Gallic acids a phenolic compound possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property which can protect from free radicals.
Tropical application and dietary use of gallic acid can protect from ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage. (44)
Wrap up: With enough vitamin C, gallic acid and other phytonutrients, blueberries provide enough protection to the skin from free radicals and photodamage.