Blueberries: Health benefits  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Some nutritional wonders come in small packages as a gift from nature.
- Imagine a superfood, not a drug or supplement, so powerful that it helps you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and, for an added bonus, put you in a better mood.
- How good are blueberries really or are they just a hyped up “superfood”?
Cultivated on farms as well as found in abundance in the wild, this fruit with deep blue-purple colour, thin translucent skin and tiny seeds have been touted as a ‘superfood’ for a long time now.
About 80 gm or one cup serving of blueberries can give you 32Kcal/135KJ. It boasts of nutritive content of 0.7g protein, 0.2g fat, 7.3g carbohydrates, 1.2g fibre, 53mg potassium, 0.75mg vitamin E, 5mg vitamin C, amongst others.
Children love eating this tangy fruit and it makes a good ingredient to be added to pancakes, smoothies, jams, or even to a cake. Doctors and nutritionists frequently recommend eating this “superfood” packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids that not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory. are chemicals inside the plants — called phytonutrients or phytochemicals. “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.
Registered nutritionist Jo Lewin shares the dietary benefits with readers of BBC Good Food. Here’s what she says about the importance of blueberries to our diet.
The top 5 health benefits of blueberries:
- Antiinflammatory and protective: You may be stunned to discover the antioxidant levels in blueberries — clearly one of the highest amongst commonly consumed fruit and vegetables. Just one cup has 13,427 total antioxidants – vitamins A & C, plus flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) like quercetin and anthocyanidin. That’s about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation, in just one cup! Cultivated blueberries have 9,019 per cup and are equally vitamin-rich. This is typically referred to as the ORAC score. The naturally occurring plant compounds called phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and anthocyanidins are responsible for the blue, indigo and red colouring of the berry. They help combat inflammation — the root cause of several serious ailments such as cancer.
- Fights heart disease: The anthocyanidins, which are found in berry fruits reduce reducing the arterial stiffness which is associated with ageing — thus helping the blood vessel network linking the heart to the rest of the body — as agile as ever — and functional so as to help a person age healthily. the antioxidants in blueberries work to reduce the buildup of “bad” LDL cholesterol in artery walls that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Anti-diabetic: This is one fruit that diabetics can have without worry or guilt. Blueberries are both low in sugar and a good source of fibre, as a result, they have a low Glycaemic Index (GI). Registered nutritionist Jo Lewin tells BBC Good Food that with their high flavonoid content, and low GI count, blueberries may help improve insulin sensitivity which is important for managing blood sugar levels.
- Good for eye health and vision: A blueberries-rich diet will help improve vision and guard against age-related macular degeneration, studies have found. Eating blueberries regularly has been shown to improve blood and oxygen flow to the eyes and antioxidant protection which may help reduce the likelihood of cataract and macular degeneration. These violet-hued gems are rich in anthocyanins, potent antioxidants that bolster collagen structure in the retina and provide extra vision protection, Johanna Seddon, M.D., an expert on macular degeneration and coauthor of Eat Right for Your Sight tells AARP.
- Good for the stomach, gut, and Urinary Tract: You may have heard of several benefits that eating blueberries brings to the digestive system and the relief it brings to patients of repeated Urinary Tract Infections of UTIs. Traditional medicine suggests blueberries may be a useful remedy for both gastrointestinal conditions and urinary tract infections. Blueberries are often recommended in a regular diet for especially menopausal or very elderly women who suffer from frequent UTIs. That is because blueberries help combat UTIs by keeping bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. More. Blueberry contains similar constituents as cranberry, and might also prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary bladder.
Who can eat blueberries?
Almost everyone can eat blueberries, except people with known or unknown allergies or eating disabilities. If you have never eaten blueberries before and could possibly have a known or unknown health condition, it makes good sense to seek advice from your doctor before you start consuming any. Blueberries, along with fruits including apples, peaches, avocados and raspberries contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may experience an allergic reaction to them, including skin rash and swelling, warns the BBC Good Food report.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.