July is National Blueberry Month, a great time to talk about the health benefits of blueberries. So what’s so great about these little fruits? To start, they’re high in antioxidants, associated with lower risks of disease and, from a marketing standpoint, ranked as superfood. Welcome to Blueberry Week.
You don’t have to care about health to like blueberries. These little berries taste great plain, in pie, in doughkies, in homemade jello snacks. Kids like them. Adults like them. They’re also one of North America’s natural treasures: did you know 95% of blueberries come from Canada and the United States?
If you do, however, care about health, you can’t ignore blueberries’ perks. While, according to The Atlantic, we only know so much about blueberries’ health benefits because of the many marketing dollars spent studying them, there’s still no denying what those studies have found.
So what exactly are the health benefits of blueberries? Why eat more blueberries? Here’s a long list of reasons why these tiny fruits are some of the best produce you can eat.
15 Potential Health Benefits of Blueberries
- Provide abundant nutrients. One cup of blueberries offers four grams of fiber, a quarter of your daily recommended vitamin C intake and more than a third of your daily recommended vitamin K intake. Blueberries are also low in calories, high in water (85%, in fact) and loaded with health-boosting antioxidants and anthocyanins (Healthline).
- Work against inflammation. In a world where an increasing number of people are recognizing inflammation at the root of disease, anti-inflammatory foods are invaluable. Blueberries contain polyphenols shown to regulate inflammation in the body (here’s one of many studies demonstrating this).
- Lower blood pressure. “In the area of cardiovascular problems, the best research we’ve seen shows a consistently favorable impact of blueberry consumption on blood pressure, especially in persons with already elevated blood pressure” (The World’s Healthiest Foods).
- Improve immunity. Consuming blueberry powder every day for six weeks increased what are known as natural killer (NK) cells for subjects, boosting overall immunity (see study).
- Encourage healthy digestion. Because they contain a decent amount of soluble fiber, blueberries can “slow down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream and help to keep the digestive system happy” (BBC Good Food).
- Alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Multiple studies cite fruits such as blueberries as useful in preventing or alleviating the symptoms of arthritis (example 1 and example 2).
- Work against cancer. Thanks to their high antioxidant content, blueberries show inherent abilities to “prevent carcinogenesis, inhibit the proliferation of neoplastic cells, and reduce the risks of recurrence in patients in remission.” Current research is being done to see how blueberries could provide new strategies to treat cancer (read the study abstract).
- Benefit heart health. As is true of most fruits and vegetables, blueberries contribute to a healthier heart. “A number of epidemiological trends and clinical studies support the notion of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables being correlated with reduced cardiovascular complications and mortality” (see one 2013 study). Another study also showed a diet rich in anthocyanins, such as the ones in blueberries, is linked with a lower risk of heart attack (see study).
- Prevent liver disease. Blueberries are among several bioactive food components and natural products that have antifibrotic effects in the liver (read more).
- Offer mental clarity after general anesthesia. Drinking blueberry juice has been shown to protect against the postoperative mental impairment patients have from general anesthesia (view study).
- Improve memory. Blueberry supplementation improved memory and blood sugar levels for older adults (read the study). Rats fed blueberries for eight weeks had better memory than their peers (view study).
- Provide better mobility. In a 2015 study, older adults who ate two cups of frozen blueberries each day for six weeks saw significant improvements in mobility (see 2015 study).
- Improve eye health. The anthocyanins in blueberries could inhibit the induction and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) through antioxidant mechanisms (read the recent study).
- Improve insulin resistance. One double-blinded and placebo-controlled study from 2010 showed that daily blueberry powder supplementation improved patients’ insulin sensitivity over a six-week period. Subjects included obese, nondiabetic, and insulin-resistant participants (see the study).
- Help with managing type II diabetes. Diabetic patients who drank cranberry juice every day for 12 weeks and took blueberry extract or powder supplementation for 8 to 12 weeks showed a beneficial effect on glucose control (read more).
Blueberries are proof that eating whole foods is worth the effort, as nurse and blogger Izzy Cooks argued in a recent interview. By incorporating these blue fruits into your diet, you gain a rich supply of health benefits even beyond those listed here. So during this year’s National Blueberry Month, celebrate all they offer and eat a cup, to your health! Or, you might want to try one of the blueberry recipes posted here.
Looking to Go Blueberry Picking Near Nashville?
South of the city in Eagleville, Tennessee, Blue Honey Farms is a u-pick farm with hours every day of the week. It uses organic methods, is easily accessible from Nashville or Franklin and, according to the owner, is the blueberry source for local restaurants Dozen, Folk and Rolf & Daughters.
*This post is not medical advice or coming from a medical professional. Statements have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any particular disease.