If you are berry lover, then it is highly probable that Blueberry is one of your favorite berry. After all blueberry is perhaps the most popular berry along with strawberries.
Blueberries contain many nutrition but the most beneficial nutrition is anthocyanins which is a subset of flavonoids. You can get the benefits associated with Blueberries when you consume these fruits. You can also get the benefits when you consume the concentrated extract of blueberries.
What are Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are the largest group of pigments in the plant kingdom. When you enjoy the fall colors remember that anthocyanins are the compounds are also responsible for the leaves changing color. Plants tend to contain a wide range of anthocyanins.
When you see red, orange or blue colored vegetables and fruit, you can be sure that anthocyanins are present in those vegetables. Anthocyanins are molecules, which are responsible for the red to blue color spectrum in nature. They are usually found in plants. There are more than 635 known anthocyanins.
Evidence from many research and studies suggest that some anthocyanins have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But further research is needed to determine if these effects are practical in terms of oral supplementation.
Blueberries are great source of anthocyanins.
How do you benefit from anthocyanins in Blueberries?
Anthocyanins are most beneficial in dementia which is some kind of brain disorder which affects the memory. This is more prevalent in elderly persons.
These molecules work by reducing the rate of cognitive decline in your brain. Some studies on rats have show that cognitive power may be boosted to some extent in younger beings to lesser extent.
Although research is still going on some research suggest that anthocyanins work by stimulating a growth factor known as BDNF. Many studies done on rats suggest that anthocyanins can reduce inflammation specifically in adipose tissue(fatty tissues).
This means that it may held reverse obesity in cases where obesity is caused due to inflammation related diseases. But you should remember that you should not rely on blueberries as an ‘fat burning’ food.
Other Nutrients in Blueberries
Anthocyanins are not the only beneficial molecule you will find in blueberries. There are many other nutrients which are present in blueberries. Let us see the major nutrients present in blueberries.
100 grams of blueberries contain around 10 grams of sugar and 2.4 grams of dietary fiber. Protein and fats are in negligible amount. However total calories from 100 grams of blueberries is just 240 calories.
Blueberries contain manganese in good quantity and minute quantities of other minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Our body needs many minerals and blueberries can fulfill that need to large extent.
Blueberries also contain almost all Vitamins but Vitamin C and and Vitamin K are present in significant portion.
Health Benefits of Eating Blueberries
There are multiple health benefits associated with eating blueberries and other berries.
1. Cardiovascular Health
Many studies reported by US National library of medicine reported that consuming blueberries along with other berries such as acaiberry, strawberry and cranberry improved cardiovascular health.
The researchers also saw that berries improved the anti oxidant levels in the blood and urine and helped lower the LDL cholesterol. In many cases they also found that berries increased the healthy cholesterol HDL.
Berries also helped in reducing the blood glucose levels. All these factors are major factors which affect the cardiovascular health. When these factors are controlled the cardiovascular health improves.
2. Alzheimer’s Disease
More than 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers are growing. One study was done on people with mild symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease above the age of 68. These people were fed with powdered form of blueberry (1 cup equivalent) for 16 weeks once a day. The other group was fed placebo powder.
Researchers observed that “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.” The team also conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The MRI showed that there was increased brain activity in those who ingested the blueberry powder.
In another study it was found that blueberry was more beneficial in curing cognitive function rather than memory. The study also concluded that the effects were not profound in people who did not have developed cognitive issues.
3. Antioxidant Properties
Blueberries are full of antioxidants. It is very important for you to consume antioxidant foods regularly. The reason is the damage which happens to out cells and DNA everyday due to various reasons such as stress, bad food and pollution. The damage to DNA and cells causes early aging and loss of immunity against diseases.
When blueberries and other antioxidant containing foods are consumed regularly they help increase the antioxidant levels in our body and blood stream. In a study done on 168 healthy individuals it was found that when the subject consumed 1 ltr of Apple and blueberry mixed juice everyday for 4 weeks plasma antioxidative capacity increased.
More importantly they observed that the DNA damage was reduced. The results are more positive in men. The study can be referred here. The study was funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development. Nutrition
4. Lessens the Damage to LDL Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is present in our blood stream. This cholesterol is also damaged by free radicals which is one of the factors for heart diseases. The anti oxidative property of blueberries can prevent this damage and help you prevent heart disease.
Studies support this finding. For example this study published in nutrition journal found that LDL oxidation reduced by 27% in 8 weeks when 50 grams of blueberry was consumed daily.
Concerns While Consuming Blueberries
The major problem associated with blueberries is the use of pesticides in many crops. In fact many varieties which are allowed to use the term “wild” are actually not wild. They are cultivated and pesticides are used. When we eat pesticides infected food the benefits are gone and we increase the chanced of getting ill. In fact many types of cancers are associated with eating foods on which pesticides are used.
You should try to eat organic berries. Else try to wash properly in brine solution before eating them.
Best Way to Eat Blueberries
I find that smoothies are the best way to eat most berries including blueberries. Blueberries are mixed in yogurt and milk and blended with ice. Here is a video which shows how to create blueberry smoothie. This smoothie is very easy to make. The only thing which I would change is not add the sugar. You can substitute sugar with Stevia.
Some other ways to eat blueberries
You can add blueberries to salads which will add color and flavor to salads.
You can also add blueberry to yogurts and consume them. You can also add strawberry and blackberries also to the yogurt to make it tastier.
Another way to eat could be to mix seeds and nuts such as walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and add blueberry to the mix. This ways you add protein and health fats along with added fiber. One cup of this mix can keep you full for along time.