Blueberries have been getting some attention recently, as studies are finding that these tiny blueish-purple berries have some unexpected health benefits. Originally found growing wild in the United States, and later bred to be the domestic plant we know today, blueberries have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The Native Americans would brew a tea from the roots to be used during childbirth. It was believed to help ease the mother’s pain during labor. They would also brew tea from the leaves to purify the blood.
Today blueberries are being hailed as another member of the Super Food or Super Berry family. Researchers are finding more reasons to add blueberries to your regular diet, than originally thought. While not everything is known about these tiny blue wonders, adding a cup of these little guys to your plate or smoothie three times a week seems to help improve your overall health in a variety of ways.
Like most fruits, blueberries are high in Vitamin C and other nutrients like Vitamin K and Manganese, which can help boost your immunity. They also contain gallic acid, which is known for its antiviral properties So next time you feel the sniffles starting, add some frozen blueberries to your orange juice, throw it in the blender, and make a smoothie.
Blueberries contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is what gives them their blue color. According to Prevention Magazine, anthocyanin
…can cross the blood-brain barrier, protecting brain cells from oxidation and boosting communication between brain neurons.
This means an improvement in short term memory, as well as balance and coordination.
The carotenoids and flavonoids in blueberries are thought to help prevent the deterioration of vision. Vitamin C has also been found to reduce intraocular pressure; this can help decrease the potential for developing glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. It can also help prevent macular degeneration, by keeping the connective tissue in the eye more resilient.
4. Heart Health
The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University conducted a study in 2010 on the potential health benefits of blueberries. The forty-eight participants, which included both men and women, were at high risk for heart disease, diabetes, and/or stroke. All of them also had a Body Mass Index in the obese range. At the conclusion of the trial, the participants were found to have improved the health factors that made them a higher risk for heart disease.
5. Prevention and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections
Anyone who has every suffered from a UTI, pay careful attention! Like cranberries, the skin of blueberries contain proanthocyanidins, a compound that prevents bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. Not only can this help prevent UTIs, it can also help clean out the bacteria once you have one.
6. Lowers Blood Sugar
Studies have shown that blueberries can help regulate blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. Those anthocyanins that help with UTIs, are also thought to have an effect on insulin sensitivity as well as glucose metabolism. This can mean a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, and an improvement for those already diagnosed.
Not only are blueberries a good source of fiber, one cup contains 3.6 grams or 15% of the average woman’s daily needs, they have also been found to help prevent ulcers. This translates to some much needed help with your tummy troubles.
8. Belly Fat
That fiber can also have the added bonus of making you feel fuller, helping you eat less. Blueberries also contain a compound called pterostilbene which can help prevent the build-up of belly fat.
9. Slow Aging Process
The 24% of your daily Vitamin C intake that blueberries provide can also help the collagen in your skin. This can help keep your skin nice and taut, and prevent the appearance of wrinkles.
10. Low Calorie
One cup of blueberries has a mere 80 calories, making it a great snack when you’re craving something sweet. Just remember that this only applies to fresh blueberries; one cup of dried blueberries can have up to 500 calories. So be careful when making up your bag of trail mix.
Craving some dried blueberries now?