Blueberries’ taste and hue have made them a favorite of chefs and foodies alike. But it’s the brain-boosting, disease-fighting benefits that give blueberries an appeal that endures long after other food fads fade.
Here are five reasons why blueberries are a nutrition powerhouse:
1. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect the body against inflammation, which is thought to be a leading factor in brain aging, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative diseases. And just one cup of blueberries has more total antioxidant capacity (TAC) than 20 other fruits and veggies, including raspberries and strawberries. But even more importantly, blueberries are among the highest in cellular antioxidant activity, which is a more relevant measure of the potential health impact on the body than just the amount of antioxidants contained in the fruit.
2. Blueberries can help keep your heart healthy
With six grams of fiber per cup, blueberries can help you get the 28 grams of fiber per day that is recommended to help improve cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the polyphenols that are abundant in blueberries have been linked to improved endothelial function, a predictor of the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the September 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
3. Blueberries help boost brain function
Mounting research is showing that blueberries can aid cognitive function in kids and older adults. A study published in the October 2017 issue of Food & Function concluded that in school-age kids, consuming blueberries may enhance executive function — the mental skills that help them pay attention, manage time, and complete tasks. This is based on research published in the October 2015 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition, which showed that blueberries boosted memory and concentration in school-age kids. And it’s not just kids that benefit. A growing body of research, including that presented at the 2016 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), concluded that blueberries appear to help improve memory and cognitive function in older adults.
4. Blueberries may improve mood
Studies show that blueberries can lift kids’ spirits. A study published in the February 2017 issue of Nutrients concluded that consuming blueberries might significantly boost mood in both young adults (ages 18 to 21) and children (ages 7 to 10). That’s important, as depression that occurs in adolescence or early adulthood is more likely to reemerge. “Therefore, the impact of flavonoids on positive mood in children and young adults could reduce their risk of depression in adolescence and later in life,” said study co-author Shirley Reynolds, Professor of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies at the University of Reading.
5. Blueberries may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
Studies show that a diet containing blueberries can positively impact certain characteristics of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What’s more, blueberries won’t wreak havoc with blood sugar levels. Wild blueberries naturally have 30 percent less sugar than cultivated varieties — with just 10 grams of sugar per cup. And blueberries are a low-glycemic food — they have a score of 53 on the 100-point Glycemic Index (GI). Foods that are lower on the GI don’t cause rapid or large spikes in blood sugar and may be beneficial for those following a special diet for diabetes.