Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in all the world. They contain the highest antioxidant value of any fruit and a variety of antioxidants including polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthrocyanins. They are low in calories at 85 per cup; low in glycemic index and glycemic load (considering ½ cup); yet high in fiber containing many vitamins and minerals. Although small in matter, blueberries are a nutrient-dense food that keeps on giving. And they have a significant impact on many aspects of your health.
The high antioxidants in blueberries help neutralize free radicals that can ultimately damage your DNA. This protects your body against both the aging process and cancer. Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, a renowned neurologist at UCLA, advises his patients to eat one cup of blueberries per day. It’s the flavonoids called anthrocyanins, which have been linked to improving one’s memory and cognition. These anthrocyanins give blueberries their deep blue color and reduce the risk of dementia by enhancing circulation and protecting brain cells from damage. They also benefit aging neurons by improving cell signaling.
This super load of antioxidants can also reduce inflammation throughout the body (Inflammation and cancer are related). Research indicates these antioxidants may prohibit cells from becoming malignant and may slow the growth of cancer cells. A 2010 study revealed that blueberry extracts can inhibit the growth and spreading of breast cancer cells. Harvard grad, Dr. William Lee, is doing much needed research on the benefits of blueberry extracts in fighting cancer.
Additionally, there are the many benefits to the heart. The polyphenols in blueberries may help prevent heart disease and reduce high blood pressure. They are linked to lower levels of oxidized LDL. This protects the cholesterol in your blood from becoming damaged. The plant compounds help improve blood vessel elasticity. Blueberries also contain resveratrol, which is of known benefit to the heart. Red wine is not the only way to gain this benefit. Mark blueberries down as a great way to lower your risk of heart disease.
This gift of fruit keeps on giving. Blueberries contain flavonoids that help improve insulin sensitivity for those who are at risk for type 2 diabetes. The bioactive compounds actually outweigh any negative impact of the 15 grams of fruit sugar contained in one cup. The manganese and vitamin C in blueberries help maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.
The compounds in blueberries may prevent your next UTI infection by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Yes, blueberries actually contain anti-adhesives that prevent bacteria from binding to the walls of your bladder. Recent research reveals that they also offer benefits for those suffering from depression and PTSD.
Who knew the numerous benefits this precious little gift of nature provides us. Its ability to fight free radicals and limit inflammation reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. This small gift has so many advantages with little to no side effects. Since many blueberries are heavily sprayed with pesticides, I recommend purchasing them organically or locally as much as possible.
As someone who’s been through heart disease with my father-in-law, Alzheimer’s disease with my own dad, and cancer with my mom, husband and me, blueberries are now an everyday delicacy in our home. Blueberries are the nutrient-dense gift that keeps on giving. As I say, a cup a day keeps many diseases at bay!
Here’s to your health!
Photo courtesy of Andrew Welch on Unsplash