Blueberries are one of the most popular fruits thanks to their palatable taste, easy accessibility, and ability to blend well into several popular dishes.
Considered to be a superfood thanks to their rich nutrient profile, blueberries are so healthy that some experts think you should be eating them on a daily basis.
Where Do Blueberries Come From?
As with most other berries, blueberries are grown on bushes. The shrub that blueberries are harvested from is known as Vaccinium Cyanococcus.
While most think that all berries are related, blueberries are in the same family as cranberries and huckleberries but are not similar at all to strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
Blueberries start out green when they first bloom on the shrub but deepen to a darkish purple-blue as they ripen. Their distinguishing feature, a crown-like flare on one end, sets them apart from other berries.
Blueberries are commonly seen in grocery stores year-round, but their normal growing season is between April and the end of September in the United States.
The freshest blueberries can be found when you pick them yourself at a blueberry farm or by purchasing them directly from a farmer’s market.
Nutrient Profile of Blueberries
One serving of blueberries, which is one cup, contains the following:
- 85 calories
- 0.5 grams of fat
- 1.1 grams of protein
- 21 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.6 grams of fiber
- 15 grams of sugar
It also contains several important vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Blueberries are 85 percent water and help to promote natural hydration.
9 Research-Backed Health Benefits of Blueberries
There are numerous health benefits of blueberries. These are the ones that research proves. There’s never been a better time to start adding blueberries to your diet regularly.
If you read anything about blueberries, you can’t escape without seeing reference to antioxidants. But this frequently used word has lost some meaning. Antioxidants are compounds which fight oxidative stress or damage in the body.
Imagine your cells as well-oiled machines, but eventually, they give way to damage from everyday stress and start to rust. This is like oxidation in the body. You don’t want rusty cells. Antioxidants are like regular infusions of oil to keep things running smoothly, without rust or break down.
Oxidation and free radicals not only cause damage to cells but can lead to other health problems like cancer, disease, disorders, and physical pain. It can also lead to more rapid signs of aging.
Blueberries and other fruits are especially rich in antioxidants, but blueberries are considered to have one of the highest antioxidant levels per serving.
Among antioxidants, there are different types, and blueberries are especially rich in a type known as flavonoids. Eating blueberries has been demonstrated by research to directly raise antioxidant levels in the body. (source)
This is why some experts will counsel patients who are sick, chronically ill, or fighting cancer to eat blueberries every day.
Thanks to their antioxidants, blueberries protect cells on the inside and outside of the body from experiencing premature signs of aging or break down.
This includes reducing early signs of aging and even helping to slow down natural aging processes. Blueberries can promote youthful looking skin, reduce wrinkles, and even improve the tone of skin, leading to a brighter appearance.
This is all because blueberries help to protect DNA in cells from being damaged from oxidation. In as little as four weeks, blueberries can help reduce oxidative damage by 20 percent or more.(source)
Over time, this can have a dramatic effect on aging and reduction in common signs.
People are always looking for the best and quickest way to shed unwanted weight. While there is no magical cure-all, blueberries have an excellent nutritional profile to help promote natural weight loss.
This is because they’re rich in fiber, which can promote intestinal health, and they’re packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients that help to address underlying causes of weight problems to begin with.
Fiber helps promote natural weight loss because it also helps to keep you feeling fuller longer. The sweetness of blueberries also helps to take the edge off of sweet cravings without blowing up your day’s macronutrient intake.
Research even supports blueberries as an excellent food for natural weight loss. Although mostly done on animals, some research found that blueberries led to a reduction in belly fat in obese rats. (source)
Of course, no food alone will replace a healthy overall diet with regular movement, but blueberries each day might be a good start to reduce belly fat and overall body weight.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad word. In fact, the inflammatory process was designed to help the body heal when it does get injured. It becomes problematic when it goes unchecked and results in chronic heat in body tissues. This can cause a breakdown, disease, and physical pain.
Excessive inflammatory processes are often blamed for many chronic health issues and diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmunity, and even depression. (source)
Blueberries have a potent anti-inflammatory impact on body cells. Research finds that they can inhibit the inflammatory response in cells and reduce inflammatory markers.(source)
Whether you’re dealing with autoimmune disease or excess weight, reducing inflammation in the body is an essential part of finding your way back to health. Blueberries are a simple way to boost your daily antioxidants and decrease inflammatory markers.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections can happen in men or women, but they can be a frequently recurring problem for some women. Cranberry juice is a common go-to for fighting these infections, but most don’t know that blueberries are equally as effective.
Blueberries are from the same family as cranberries, and contain the same active substances that fight bacteria in the kidneys and bladder.(source)
UTIs, as they’re commonly known, are most often caused by E. coli bacteria that makes it way into the bladder, igniting an uncomfortable infection from there.
When left untreated, urinary tract infections can become serious kidney infections, so it’s important to address them when symptoms present themselves. Eating blueberries regularly can help prevent the occurrence of UTIs, although they cannot necessarily remove an infection once present.
If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them as directed, and don’t stop before the full course of antibiotics is complete.
Eating blueberries while you’re being treated for a UTI can also help to reduce the unpleasant impact of antibiotics thanks to the fiber in blueberries that can help provide bulk to the stool.
Brain and Memory
Everyone is on the lookout for the best brain foods that fight inflammation and protect memory. Alzheimer’s and dementia are major concerns of aging that are related to oxidative damage and how the brain responds to glucose.
Blueberries can support a healthy brain and can improve overall memory and the ability to process thoughts and memories. Even when blueberries are used in older adults, research shows that memory can improve after just 12 weeks of use. (source)
The brain ages just like any other tissue in the body and can be subject to oxidative damage. Blueberries fight aging in the brain and protect brain cells by improving how neurons signal and communicate. (source)
Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
Heart disease and heart attack are still major problems across the world, with more than 30 percent of all deaths in the U.S. due to a problem with the heart or related cardiovascular problems. (source)
The heart, as with the lungs and brain, are so vital for bodily health that problems can result in severe consequences.
Numerous factors can contribute to heart disease, heart attack, and related disorders, including high triglyceride levels, oxidized cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure. Most people experience two or more of these problems at the same time, creating a perfect storm of heart disease.
Research shows blueberries to be protective of heart health and able to reduce serious risk factors for heart disease. Regular consumption of blueberries can result in reduced blood pressure (up to 6 percent in just eight weeks) and can keep cholesterol from becoming oxidized and clogging up arteries. (source, source)
Still more research shows that regular intake of blueberries might be able to reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 32 percent. (source)
Blueberries can’t cure heart disease if you have it, but it can do a lot to reduce risk factors before you develop it. Even if you have heart disease, regularly eating blueberries is still a healthy part of a diet and could further reduce risk factors.
Cancer is a scary word that isn’t a special disease in and of itself, but rather, is the process of cells replicating incorrectly from DNA damage.
Cancer is more of a breakdown process that occurs in organ or body specific areas, and not a mystical disease that suddenly appears.
Every day, our cells experience oxidative damage and stress on our DNA. It is so common that it happens tens of thousands of times on a daily basis.
This perpetual onslaught of issues, however, is what can eventually lead to disease or cancer, when we no longer have the nutrients or cell support to regulate it. (source)
In order to help fight off the damage that can result from constant and unchecked oxidative damage, we need a steady intake of antioxidants. Blueberries contain some of the highest levels bite-for-bite, and help to restore DNA to its proper condition.
While blueberries contain some amount of natural sugar, like all fruits, they have a low glycemic impact, making them a great fruit choice for people with diabetes or high blood sugar.
The antioxidants in blueberries actually help improve insulin sensitivity and how the body takes in glucose, making them an important part of a diet that is fighting diabetes. (source)
How to Buy Blueberries
Blueberries can be found locally in the United States from April through September. If you cannot find them from a farmer’s market, chances are they ones in your grocery store are fresh and somewhat local, since it’s often less expensive to get produce from close proximity when it is in season.
Blueberries should be dark blue and firm. If they’re mushy or nearly black, they’re likely past their prime, and if they’re lighter blue or lighter purple, they are not ripe enough and will be too sour to enjoy.
Blueberries should be stored in the refrigerator after purchase and should always be washed thoroughly before eating.
Best Blueberry Recipes
Blueberries can be eaten raw and fresh, but you can also use them in a wide variety of dishes. The next time you have a pint of blueberries that you aren’t sure what to do with, get creative and try one of these tried and true recipes.
Paleo Blueberry Muffins: This grain-free twist on a classic recipe is a great way to amp up your breakfast.
Fresh Blueberry Crisp: Put a summery twist on the typical crisp dessert with this sweetly satisfying dish.
Grilled Salmon Steaks with Blueberry Sauce: Think blueberries are only for dessert? Think again with this delicious seafood sweet-and-savory dish that tastes far more gourmet than it is.
Blueberry Onion Jam: Take your chicken dinner to the next level with this sweet and spicy jam that is better than any barbecue sauce.
Blueberry Cucumber Salad: Double your fruit and veggie intake by adding blueberries to your next salad. The slightly sweet profile pairs perfectly with the savory addition of vegetables.
Blueberry Brie Bacon Burger: Keep burger night from getting boring by opting for this creative dish that is the perfect example of sweet-and-salty.
Blueberries are a nutrient-dense fruit that is easily accessible and widely versatile for dietary intake.
Not only can you reduce the impact of aging and numerous chronic health conditions, but you can protect your DNA and cells while getting a daily dose of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There’s no reason not to add more blueberries to your daily diet!
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.