FRANCES BLOOMFIELD–As one of the most popular food product in the country, you’ve undoubtedly come across or even eaten blueberries. These not-quite-tart, not-quite-sweet fruits have been used as a core ingredient in pies, muffins, pancakes, ice cream, and salads. If by some chance you’ve never tried blueberries then you definitely should. Far from simply being just another fruit, blueberries have been graciously bestowed with the “superfood” label. This means that they’ve been recognized as a nutrient-rich food beneficial to your overall health and well-being. Making blueberries a part of your diet will do your body nothing but good, and here’s how:
- Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants – The word “antioxidants” are thrown around a lot, but what exactly are they? Antioxidants, as the name implies, are powerful substances that prevent oxidation. This naturally-occurring process is both a necessity and a nuisance due to one by-product: free radicals, which are groups of atoms that can damage our cells and make us more susceptible to debilitating health conditions. Antioxidants prevent this from happening, and blueberries just so happen to be dense with antioxidants. So much so that blueberries have actually been ranked as one of the best sources of antioxidants, particularly the flavonoid, anthocyanins. These unique plant pigments have been linked to a wide array of health benefits that range from cholesterol level reduction to improved heart function.
- Blueberries are abundant in many other nutrients – Apart from being exceptional sources of antioxidants, blueberries can be counted on to help you meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Eating just one cup or 148 g of blueberries will contribute towards 36 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 25 percent of your needed value of manganese, and 24 percent of your required amount of vitamin C. You need vitamin K to regulate blood clotting and to transport calcium throughout your body. Manganese plays a role in maintaining proper thyroid function, as well as improving your digestion and metabolism. Vitamin C, meanwhile, is necessary for the growth and repair of your body’s various tissues. Furthermore, blueberries are low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fats, ensuring your body won’t be overloaded with these substances when you eat blueberries.
- Blueberries are good for your heart – As was mentioned previously, blueberries can boost the health of your heart. A 2013 study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that consuming three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries a week could actually cut down your risk of heart attack by 32 percent. According to the researchers, the anthocyanin content in both fruits was responsible for this dramatic change, specifically by reducing plaque build-up and dilating the arteries for smoother blood flow. In fact, the American Heart Association has expressed its support for berries as an important part of a balanced diet.
- Blueberries can support your brain – Thanks to their wealth of antioxidant-acting, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, blueberries are a decent brain food too. In one recent study, 30 mL of concentrated blueberry juice daily was discovered to have positive effects on the brain function of healthy, older adults by improving their cognitive ability and some parts of their working memory. The same impact was recorded in a separate study on 16,000 women aged 70 and above. The researchers behind that study noted that women who ate two or more half-cup servings of blueberries a week experienced reduced mental decline comparable to two-and-a-half years of delayed aging.
- Blueberries can improve your digestion – Did you know that our intestinal tracts are filled with friendly bacteria? These gut microbiota play a key role in nutrition absorption and vitamin synthesis, and are heavily affected by what we eat. Blueberries are one such food that, according to a study in Molecules, can induce positive changes in gut bacteria. Moreover, blueberries contain an adequate amount of fiber, with a one-cup serving providing well over 14 percent of your daily recommended value. Fiber normalizes bowel movement by softening and bulking up our stool, in turn minimizing instances of constipation and diarrhea. So in addition to boosting your gut microbiota, blueberries can help keep you regular as well. (Related: Blueberries May Take Care of Your Belly Fat.)
Fortunately, you don’t need to search high and low to get your blueberry fix. They’re one of the most widely-consumed and readily-available fruits in the United States thanks largely to their status as a superfood. Groceries, farmers’ markets, and health food stores will surely have fresh blueberries on display. And although fresh blueberries are good, frozen blueberries are even better. Freezing preserves the fruits’ nutrients better and makes their anthocyanins more absorbable.
That’s why the Health Ranger Store carries Freeze-Dried Organic Blueberries (2oz) and Freeze-Dried Organic Blueberries (14oz, #10 can). These USA-grown, non-GMO blueberries have been carefully freeze dried to retain their nutrients, flavor, and texture. If you’re looking blueberries that are the cream of the crop, then these are the ones you should stock up on.