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Benefits Of Blueberries For Health: Supported By Science In 2023
Blueberries are known as the “super-fruit” among other foods due to their high-level antioxidant capacity to fight against diseases.
Blueberries contain polyphenols and phytochemicals, including significant levels of anthocyanin pigments, giving the blueberries their unique purple-blue color. The health benefits of blueberries are based mainly on these contents. Besides, it is delicious!
7 Impressive Health Benefits Of Blueberries
- Lower blood pressure
- Protect heart health
- Lower the metabolic syndrome risk
- Improve brain function
- Regulate digestive system
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Improve skin health
Benefits Of Blueberries
Epidemiological studies have shown that regular and moderate consumption of blueberries (or their anthocyanins) is related to the reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions also benefit the health of vascular structures and cellular walls. Biomarker-based evidence from clinical studies documents the health benefits of blueberries.
Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a chronic disease in which your blood pressure is elevated: your systolic, which is the force against the blood vessels from the blood flow, and your diastolic, which is the residual resistance against the vessel walls in between heart contractions.
It is important to lower arterial pressure to avoid damage to the cardiovascular system. Relaxation of vessels helps reduce arterial pressure, and the primary molecule that the body produces to do this is nitric oxide. More nitric oxide synthase means more reduction in arterial pressure.
A recent study in 2022 showed that blueberry phenolic extract increases nitric oxide synthase in vascular cells and decreases oxidative stress. It is the helpful mechanism blueberries use to lower high blood pressure.
Also, avoiding oxidative stress via the antioxidant effects of blueberries reduces the risk of blood clotting and accumulation of oxidized LDL cholesterol in vessel walls. It was shown that intake of high levels of polyphenols was related to a 30% decrease in hypertension risk in women.
14 years of follow-up in a study of 29,018 individuals showed that high levels of anthocyanin consumed from blueberries and strawberries reduced the risk of hypertension by nearly 10%.
In post-menopausal women, daily blueberry powder supplementation (22 g/day) showed an important decrease in hypertension while it also increased nitric oxide levels.
Protect Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, blueberries offer excellent protection for the cardiovascular system. The anthocyanin content of blueberries protects heart health.
According to a meta-analysis of six different studies, high anthocyanin intake reduces death from cardiovascular diseases. In another cohort study with 16,678 men and women followed for six years, anthocyanin intake decreased coronary heart disease.
A higher level of anthocyanin intake was associated with improved blood fat (cholesterol and triglyceride levels). As it is well established, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) and total fat in the blood are the main risk factors for heart and vascular disease.
A daily anthocyanin supplement of 320 mg anthocyanin (in about 100 mg of blueberries) reduced the blood LDL level. Also, there is a reduction in the specific adhesion molecule that leads to cholesterol accumulation when the cholesterol is elevated (hypercholesterolemia).
Lower The Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Metabolic syndrome is a health condition that includes being overweight or obese (especially manifested by a higher waist circumference) and having high arterial pressure, impaired blood sugar metabolism, and abnormal blood cholesterol and blood lipid (fat) profile.
Dietary content should be managed with foods to reduce obesity and metabolic syndrome risk. These are the main risk factors for mortality in chronic diseases. Eating blueberries has substantial metabolic benefits due to their high polyphenol content.
In a study on the metabolic effects of blueberries, 66 obese patients with metabolic syndrome were divided into two groups, with one group given 50 g of freeze-dried blueberries and the other, 480 mL of water.
After eight weeks of daily administration, the blueberry group had a significant reduction in blood pressure, oxidized LDL-C, and pro-inflammatory factors. These results show that blueberries benefit cardiovascular parameters in patients with metabolic syndrome.
Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular health, and blueberries are also beneficial in decreasing body weight. In a study of identical twins, the twins with higher anthocyanin and flavonoid intake had a lower limb-to-trunk fat mass ratio than their matching twins who consumed lower levels of them.
While genetics is often cited as the cause of lipid disorders, this study showed how diet alteration can impact health, even between identical genetic twins.
In diabetic patients, anthocyanins increased HDL-C (“good” cholesterol) by 25% and reduced LDL-C (“bad” cholesterol) by 10%. Anthocyanins also improved insulin sensitivity and lowered fasting blood sugar.
According to the results of three prospective cohort studies of over 124,000 people in the USA, including follow-ups, a higher intake of foods rich in flavonoids, including anthocyanins, contributed to improved weight management.
Improve Brain Function
Blueberries, among other beneficial foods, provide notable health benefits in neurodegenerative diseases. Anthocyanins have become an important molecule for neuroscience.
A study of older adults showed that daily consumption of blueberries protects cognitive function by improving memory. It is also revealed that the group that consumed blueberry juice daily tended to experience reduced depression symptoms.
In a more recent study, participants aged between 60-75 who consumed freeze-dried blueberries daily (24 g/day, equivalent to 1 cup of fresh blueberries) for 90 days showed improvements in the verbal learning and task-switching test, which determines cognitive functions in older adults.
In a 12-week study, daily blueberry consumption in healthy older adults had enhanced brain activity during given tasks.
Blueberries improve cognitive function not only in older adults but also in children. Blueberry drinks containing 15 or 30 g freeze-dried wild blueberries showed a measurable dose-dependent effect on the performance of children aged between 7-10 years in cognitive tasks.
The best improvement in given tasks was seen in the group receiving 30 g/day dosages.
Regulate Digestive System
Blueberry polyphenols beneficially affect gastrointestinal microbiota and contribute to host health. Various studies show that fruits rich in polyphenols tremendously impact intestinal health.
Dietary enrichment with blueberries, which contributes dietary fiber, increases the microbiome diversity of older people.
Blueberries also are beneficial in liver health, thus benefitting the whole digestive tract. Blueberry consumption lowers abnormal (elevated) liver enzymes, which are markers for liver damage.
Also, it was observed that blueberries reduce liver fibrosis by reducing the unwanted collagen I synthase that leads to fibrosis in the liver. It also restores the intestinal barrier and maintains a healthy gut microbiome.
Reduce Oxidative Stress
The antioxidant potential of anthocyanins in blueberries is based on their chemical structure. Particular parts of the structure attach and inactivate the reactive oxygen radicals, preventing damage to cells.
In a study of pregnant women, dietary intervention with blueberries increased the primary defensive molecule in the blood, which is glutathione. Glutathione is one of the powerful antioxidant molecules, and increased levels are related to the reduction of reactive oxygen species and other proinflammatory factors and chemicals.
This is important proof of the antioxidant effect of blueberries and indicates the need for anthocyanins in a prenatal diet (via blueberries). Also, anthocyanin-rich dietary interventions have promising effects on both the neurological and peripheral defense of the body.
Improve Skin Health
It is possible to protect your skin with nutrition. Recent studies and reviews show the benefits of blueberries for the skin. The antioxidant content of blueberries might be a good strategy for skin cell protection from the sun, radiation, or harmful chemicals.
Because skin aging or skin damage is basically due to oxidative stress in skin cells, the anti-oxidant anthocyanin and other phenolic compounds of blueberries can counter these effects.
Furthermore, anthocyanins and phenolic structures have been shown to reduce the risk of melanoma, a highly metastatic type of skin cancer.
Daily blueberry consumption provides a good amount of antioxidants, and blueberries include low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sodium content. Nutritional value of 100 g of raw blueberries (with % daily value);
- Calories: 50 kcal
- Carbs: 14 g (5%)
- Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g (9%)
- Protein: 0.7 g (1%)
- Fat: 0.3 g (-)
- Sodium: 1 mg (-)
- Vitamin C: 9.7 mg (11%)
- Vitamin E: 0.57 mg (4%)
- Vitamin K: 19.3 mcg (16%)
- Manganese: 0.336 mg (15%)
What Is Anthocyanin?
Anthocyanins are in the flavonoid group with various pharmacological activities, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Anthocyanins are a subgroup of pigments that impart a red-to-blue color in various plants, flowers, seeds, and fruits.
Among other fruits, blueberries are the richest source of anthocyanins. Highbush blueberries contain almost 400 mg of anthocyanins per 100 mg. Anthocyanins or other phenolic compounds are also included in several supplements or extracts for their beneficial health benefits.
Adding Blueberries To Your Diet
It is easy to consume blueberries, and they are delicious because they have a sweet flavor.
One of the most preferred meals with blueberries is breakfast. You can choose to eat blueberry pancakes, frozen blueberry or dried blueberries in granola or oat bowls, or blueberry smoothies. These recipes make breakfast enjoyable and quite nutritious.
You can have a nutritious snack with fresh blueberries and nuts or dairy products. Also, many people choose to drink blueberry juice because of its great color and taste.
You can prepare colorful salads using dried blueberries, and you can improve your nutrition even further by adding protein sources to these salads.
What happens if you were to eat blueberries every day? Besides an allergy that any food can cause, blueberries have no side effects. When you consume a moderate amount of intake every day, you will enjoy blueberry benefits for male and female.
The Bottom Line
Blueberry has important health effects due to its powerful polyphenolic content. The most effective one is anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that gives blueberry its specific color.
Antioxidants increase in the blood with the consumption of blueberries to protect cells from oxidative damage. This mechanism prevents heart disease, high arterial pressure, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, skin cancer, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.
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