Blueberries are superfoods thanks to their high antioxidant content. Benefits of eating blueberries can support gut health, brain function, heart health, and more.
What Are Blueberries?
Blueberries are small, round purple-blue fruits that are native to North America. They grow on bushes and ripen in early summer.
There are many types of blueberries, but the most popular variety is a highbush blueberry. This is the type you’ll probably see at the supermarket.
The berries are usually eaten raw, either fresh or frozen. But they can also be baked, dried, and cooked into jam or jelly.
Fresh and frozen blueberries are especially tasty in smoothies.
12 Blueberry Health Benefits
1. Lowers Oxidative Stress
When oxidative stress builds up, it can damage healthy cells. This can increase the risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Blueberries are some of the best foods for fighting oxidative stress. They’re rich in antioxidants, or compounds that reduce oxidative stress.
The main antioxidants in blueberries are anthocyanins. They’re beneficial plant pigments that give blueberries their purple-blue color.
Other antioxidants in blueberries include flavonols and vitamin C.
2. Decreases Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal process in the body. It helps the body heal from injury and sickness.
But if inflammation continues for too long, it can lead to chronic conditions. Examples include cancer and heart, brain, or eye disease.
Eating blueberries can help control inflammation. The anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory effects, meaning they reduce inflammation in the body.
The anthocyanins work by lowering inflammatory compounds. They also stop cellular reactions that cause inflammation.
RELATED: 12 Benefits of Eating Raspberries
3. Enhances Digestion
As a source of fiber, blueberries are good for your digestion and gut health.
Fiber bulks up the stool. This makes it easier to pass, so bowel movements are more comfortable.
Additionally, fiber provides nutrients for beneficial gut bacteria. It ensures good bacteria can flourish and grow.
Without enough fiber, there’s a higher risk of digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea.
4. Regulates Blood Glucose
High blood glucose, or sugar, can increase the risk of diabetes if it continues for too long. But the anthocyanins in blueberries might help.
Anthocyanins increase glucose uptake, or how much glucose goes in your cells. This prevents blood glucose from getting too high.
They also reduce how much your blood glucose increases after you eat. Since repeated increases can lead to diabetes, it’s important to control it.
For those who have diabetes, blueberries are recommended because are less likely to increase blood sugar.
5. Boosts Brain Health
Neurons, or nerve cells, control many brain functions. Examples include memory and problem solving.
However, oxidative stress and inflammation can destroy these neurons, leading to brain disease.
The anthocyanins in blueberries can keep your neurons healthy. This is due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Plus, anthocyanins protect the signals between neurons, which is essential for brain function.
6. Helps Immune Function
Blueberries have vitamins C and A, two nutrients needed for a healthy immune system.
Immune cells need vitamin C to grow, multiply, and destroy germs that can make you sick.
Also, vitamin C is an antioxidant. So it protects cells from oxidative damage, which reduces the risk of disease.
Vitamin A helps immune cells work properly and protect the body.
7. Maintains Eye Health
Oxidative stress and inflammation can cause many diseases, including those affecting the eyes.
Since blueberry anthocyanins fight both oxidative stress and inflammation, they’re good for eye health.
Anthocyanins also relax eye muscles and improve blood flow in the eye. This is important for reducing the risk of certain eye diseases.
8. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Rich in soluble fiber, blueberries are great for managing high blood cholesterol.
High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. So it’s important to control it.
Soluble fiber works by binding to extra cholesterol in the gut. Then it leaves the body through the stool.
This stops cholesterol from entering the blood and increasing your levels.
9. Controls Hunger Cravings
If you tend to feel hungry between meals or after eating, add blueberries to your diet.
High in fiber, blueberries can boost satiety and prevent hunger cravings. This is useful if you’re trying to manage your weight.
The fiber increases levels of satiety hormones. These are molecules that enhance the feeling of fullness.
Fiber also takes some time to move through the gut. It stays in the body for a while, making you feel full.
10. Aids Wound Healing
As a source of vitamin C, blueberries can contribute to proper wound healing.
The vitamin C ensures fibroblasts travel to wounds. Fibroblasts are cells that form tissue.
This way, skin tissue can repair quickly and stop harmful germs from entering the body.
Plus, the body uses vitamin C to produce collagen, a protein needed for strong skin.
11. Keeps Blood Healthy
Blueberries offer some vitamin K, a nutrient needed for proper blood clotting.
Essentially, when you get a cut, it’s normal to bleed. But if you keep bleeding, you’ll lose too much blood.
Blood clotting is a process that prevents this. It uses proteins to create a clot, or blockage, allowing the injury to heal.
Those proteins require vitamin K to function. Leafy greens are the best sources, but blueberries have a good amount too.
12. Decrease Muscle Soreness
According to research, blueberries might help muscle soreness after exercise.
This is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of anthocyanins, which are found in blueberries.
Essentially, intense exercise increases inflammation in the body. This inflammation contributes to sore muscles.
Blueberries have been shown to increase compounds that reduce this inflammation, improving muscle soreness.
RELATED: 12 Benefits of Eating Bananas
In general, blueberries are safe for most people. The biggest risk comes from its high amount of fiber.
If you normally don’t eat a lot of fiber, eating too many blueberries at once can cause digestive issues.
Examples include bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
To prevent this, add blueberries to your diet slowly. It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated, because fiber absorbs water.
Pick round, plump blueberries.
When shopping for blueberries, look for ones that are round, smooth, and firm. They should have a deep purple-blue color.
Skip any blueberries that are mushy, watery, or discolored.
Only refrigerate dry blueberries.
Avoid washing the blueberries before putting them in the refrigerator. The excess moisture can promote mold.
Always refrigerate blueberries when they’re dry, then wash them right before using. When stored this way, blueberries will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Pick off the stems.
Some blueberries might still have the stems attached.
To remove the stems, simply pick them off the berries. This is easy to do when you wash the blueberries.