Blueberries have long been coined a ‘superfood’; but considering their rich antioxidant content and impressive nutritional profile, it comes as little surprise.
With that said, there’s no medical definition or legal stipulation of what makes a ‘superfood’, so when you continuously spot the word popping up all over the place on health foods and dietary supplements, it can all be a little confusing.
So, we’re here to investigate the real picture behind these little blue blobs of juicy goodness: are blueberries good for you, and is blueberry nutrition as good as it’s so often made out to be?
We’ve done the research, so read on for the true story on the health benefits of blueberries!
Are Blueberries Good for You?
There’s an easy answer here: and that is, yes Despite there being no legal stipulation for blueberries (or anything else) to qualify as a superfood, blueberries would easily meet any set criteria due to their rich nutritional content and, even better, fantastic distinctive taste.
Blueberries are a relative newcomer to the fruit aisle in British supermarkets but have long been a staple in North America alongside their common counterparts huckleberries and bilberries. They too are healthy when consumed as part of a nutritionally balanced diet and active lifestyle. Now grown here in the UK, blueberries are in season from June through to September.
However, despite being a healthy and delicious fruit, and a great way to make up some of your five-a-day, consuming more than one or two portions of blueberries a day could have laxative effects. So, while they are a fantastic addition to your diet, do mediate your intake. They’re scrumptious, but too many may swiftly change your mind on that!
Blueberry Nutrition: The Facts
Blueberries are made up of approximately 84% water, 14% carbohydrates, 0.7% protein and 0.3% fat. They’re super low in calories – you’re looking at about 53 calories per 100g. They also have a really low impact on the body’s glycaemic index (that is, your blood sugar).
Despite being low in calories, they’re high in vitamins and their unique power comes from their naturally rich blend of antioxidants. It’s this that has them touted as a superfood and makes them so popular with consumers and health food brands alike!
Top 5 Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries Are Your Antioxidant Bestie!
Antioxidants are incredibly important and powerful, but their properties are often misunderstood. Put simply, antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body. Your body has its own defences against these compounds, but a boost in its power is always welcomed.
Free radicals are not harmful until they build up or multiply – at which point, they can cause chronic illnesses and conditions. However, the body constantly creates free radicals, and so, their levels must be continually mediated by both the body’s immune system and antioxidants consumed.
Studies into blueberries have shown that they are one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits in existence. Whilst these berries contain a wide variety of antioxidants, they are particularly plentiful in flavonoids. One group of flavonoids, anthocyanins, are what is responsible for the majority of the health benefits of blueberries.
Antioxidants work in different ways, but primarily, they’re capable of blocking free radicals from forming and can also break them down so they’re not harmful and are unable to cause damage to cells. Aside from blocking free radicals and lessening internal cell damage, they’re also anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergen. There’s not really much more that they could do, so it’s no surprise that they’re so popular!
They’ll Even Keep Your Skin Looking Youthful
100g of blueberries contains almost 10mg of Vitamin C, which is almost 25% of the RDI (recommended daily intake) for an adult. Vitamin C is found in an ever-increasing amount of skincare products such as creams and serums, usually applied topically (that is, onto the skin). However, eating foods rich in Vitamin C can aid your skin from the outside in, rather than the other way around, so you don’t need to rely on expensive lotions and potions!
So why are blueberries good for you in this respect? Well, there’s more than one way in which Vitamin C aids the skin:
The first is the typical anti-oxidant property of fighting free radicals. When the skin is exposed to UV rays – which it is whether or not the weather is sunny outside – mutations happen in skin cells. Vitamin C fights these changes and in particular, any damaging ones, so the chances of such cell changes becoming cancerous are lessened.
Vitamin C is extremely acidic, and this triggers regeneration within the skin when it comes into contact with it. As the acid is of non-harmful levels, it causes rejuvenation and galvanises production of elastin and collagen, promoting healthier and younger-looking skin by plumping it and toning it.
Blueberries Could Help You Lose Weight
There are a million and one health food products on the market that claim to act as meal replacements but in reality, you’ll be hungry enough ten minutes later that you’ll turn to quick snacks and quickly hamper your efforts to lose weight by inadvertently ending up consuming more, rather than less.
Blueberries contain enough dietary fibre to promote satiety and leave you feeling full after eating them. Anyone who’s tried a plant-based diet will know that this isn’t the case for every fruit, so if you’d like to top up on your vitamins and antioxidants and ensure you won’t need to eat more later, blueberries are the ideal solution. One serving of blueberries contains approximately 20% of an adult’s RDI of fibre, so you won’t need to scrabble around to find lots of other sources of it to get in plenty.
A regular and optimum intake of dietary fibre has been proven to help you lose visceral (belly) fat and to lower the rate of weight increase over time – even when an individual is unable to make significant other changes to their lifestyle. It’s also been shown to help protect the body against the risk of developing several conditions including colon cancers, gastrointestinal ulcers, diabetes, stroke and hypertension.
They Can Even Lower Your Chances of Chronic Disease
Inflammation is part of the body’s defence response to anything it doesn’t like, both internally and externally. As an anti-inflammatory, blueberries help reduce such a response; often before it even begins.
This may not seem like a big deal, but when you understand the link between inflammation and chronic diseases, it’s apparently just how important it can be. Chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of human death, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks them as one of the greatest threats to human health. Whilst mild inflammation can be a good indication of an allergic reaction or irritation, anything more severe can be severely detrimental to an individual’s health.
Chronic inflammatory diseases include diabetes, heart disease and COPB (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). These conditions can have life-changing symptoms and if left untreated, can result in premature death. Excessive inflammation can also aggravate a variety of other conditions and cause discomfort, so is best avoided where possible. Yep, you’d best stock up on those blueberries!
Plus, They’ll Keep Your Brain Sharp and Healthy!
As if all of the physical health benefits of blueberries hadn’t already sold you on them, there’s more! Clinical studies have evidenced that the daily consumption of this little blue blobs of juicy joy can benefit your brain and mental health, too.
The blueberry’s nutritional content of anthocyanins has been studied in conjunction with regular consumption and the improvement of memory and cognitive function in older adults. Based on this study, which was carried out at the University of Cincinnati, it’s believed that adding in a portion a day of blueberries to your diet could protect your brain function from neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Syndrome. These findings have promoted blueberries to even be known as a ‘brain fruit’ in some circles.
These studies were followed up a secondary scientific team at the University who trialled regular intake of blueberries amongst a group of adults who were already beginning to show cognitive degeneration but had not yet received a full diagnosis. The results were conclusive fairly fast; those consuming blueberries repeatedly enjoyed an improved memory function and improved access to word recall and concepts.
Similar studies are ongoing comparing the results to fish oil consumption, but there seems yet to be a hearty conclusion that can mirror the results blueberries yield.
How to Incorporate Blueberries Into Your Diet
Now available in supermarket aisles everywhere, blueberries are easier than ever to include in your diet. There are loads of different ways to eat them so experiment and see what works for you – there’s no need to be grabbing handfuls of cold mushy fruit if that’s not your bag!
Eat Them Fresh
There are few fruits more refreshing than fresh blueberries, and all they need is a rinse to be enjoyed as a quick and healthy snack. Buy them fresh where you can but keep them seasonal; otherwise, they can go very soft very quickly.
To best enjoy blueberries year-round, buy them frozen and defrost portions as you need to. They’re much cheaper to purchase frozen, too, and very little of their nutritional content is compromised through the standard freezing process.
Add Them To Food
You don’t need to be eating blueberry-flavoured everything to get in your dose of their antioxidant goodness every day. Use as a topping to pancakes, sprinkle them over desserts and add into your breakfast shake, cereal or porridge.
Everyone’s heard of blueberry muffins, but these little bursts of nourishment can be added to loads of baked goods. Think flapjacks, cakes and biscuits… get creative! Of course, if you’re looking to follow a healthy diet or to lose weight, don’t get carried away with the sugar in your baking. Search online for sweet but less sinful treat recipes.
Shake It Up
Blueberries are the ideal fruit for a superfood smoothie – for nutrition, taste and colour purposes! If you have the ingredients and the time, why not add blueberries to your own favourite blueberry smoothie recipe?
If you’re a bit short on time or are looking for a wholesome meal replacement shake that’s fully nutritionally-balanced, the Nutribuddy Shake Complete makes for a fantastic alternative. It contains wild blueberry powder but is vanilla flavoured – so you can take advantage of all of the blueberry’s bountiful natural properties without having to taste it, if you like! If you are a fan of the blue stuff, you can boost your antioxidant levels even further by popping some in, too.
The Bottom Line
Blueberries are known as a ‘superfruit’ for a reason – and that reason is that they’re bloody super!
Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, the health benefits of blueberries are vast and varied, spanning physical and mental health. They’re easily consumed and now widely available, so blueberries make for a brilliant dietary additive to truly nourish the body.
Numerous clinical and medical studies have investigated the health properties of blueberries with positive results, which proves their many benefits. They’re particularly popular with nutritionists and dieticians due to their versatility and multi-functional abilities. You won’t find many foods smaller that contain so much!
Due to the nature of Nutribuddy products, it wouldn’t be feasible for us to include fresh blueberries within them, but we believe in the power of this little berry so much that we do use wild blueberry powder as a base ingredient – and then customers can add in their own berries or fruit to taste.
Whether you’re looking to increase your fruit intake specifically, enter into a new regimen to lose weight or just improve your health overall, blueberries are a great starting point. Substitute a sweet snack for a portion of blueberries and you’re taking a step in the right direction with little effort.
To really incorporate blueberries into an improved diet, consider replacing a meal a day with Nutribuddy Shake Complete to easily achieve a robust mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can be consumed on-the-go or whenever convenient.