While we leave the growing to the experts so we don’t pick the wrong ones, blueberries are delicious and sweet, especially in the summertime. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as eating some cold blueberries when it’s sweltering hot out, and the fruit is a staple of the United States, the country that produces the most. In this country, we have plenty of blueberry festivals that happen each year when it’s time to start harvesting. This is especially true in Michigan, the blueberry capital of the world.
No matter where you live, though, blueberries are enjoyed because of their taste and versatility. They also fit into just about any diet, as they’re a vegetarian’s favorite. While eating pies aren’t going to be good for you, eating raw blueberries brings a lot of fantastic health benefits along with it. Let’s take a deeper look into the nutritional breakdown of this delicious treat, and tell you what those benefits are.
Nutrition of Blueberries
One cup of blueberries isn’t going to do too much damage to your calorie count, as there are only 84 calories in each serving. There’s a slight amount of protein, but the important nutrient you’ll find in here is dietary fiber, with 14 percent of your daily recommendation. Out of the vitamins, vitamin K is the big one with more than a third of your recommended value. Vitamin C is also very abundant, with a quarter of your day’s value.
Some of the other vitamins that you’ll find in smaller amounts (around five percent) include vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin E and vitamin A. As for important minerals, the one that stands out is manganese, with 25 percent daily value. Others are right around five percent, including iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. There isn’t much fat at all in each serving of blueberries, and no cholesterol whatsoever.
If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, there aren’t many foods that are quite as effective as blueberries. Since they’re so low in calories, you can end up eating quite a bit without doing too much damage to your calorie count. Even three servings is about the size of a recommended snack during the day, which is a huge benefit. It’s not just the low amount of calories, either, but other fat burning effectiveness.
Blueberries contain what is known as catechins, which have been shown to help burn fat that sits around your waistline and can be hard to lose. Studies have even backed this up, saying that those who eat more catechins lose nearly 80 percent more fat around their abdomen than those that don’t. What’s nice is that they are also filling because of the fiber content, and sweet enough to kick aside any other cravings.
There are a lot of different ways that blueberries can help you prevent different diseases, including damage to your very DNA. Since blueberries have an incredibly high amount of antioxidants, your body will be more prepared to fight against free radicals. These free radicals are responsible for attacking cells, and can cause chronic diseases such as cancer. In fact, free radical damage was shown to be reduced by 20 percent more compared to those that don’t eat many blueberries.
Minor diseases can also be taken care of by eating more foods like blueberries. Since blueberries do contain a good amount of vitamins, you’ll see a boost to your immune system that translates into everyday health. From sniffles to aggressive forms of cancer, you need antioxidants in your body to keep these problems away.
Some of the problems that can happen because of a combination of free radicals and aging happen to the brain. Antioxidants will allow you a better chance at preventing age-related problems (and even help your skin). The contents of blueberries have been researched on animals in laboratories. What was found was that memory, mood and motor skills all improved in animals that ate more blueberries compared to those that didn’t.
Even human studies have been done on the blueberry’s effect on brain function. Again, the results were extremely positive with blueberry eaters testing very well. This translates into your brain being better suited to prevent neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases down the road. So not only can you prevent problems, but also help your long term memory.
One of the most notable antioxidants that you can find in blueberries are anthocyanins. Over the past few years, we’ve wondered just how tremendous these antioxidants can be for your body. Studies showed that having more of them will reduce your chance of a heart attack by more than 30 percent. On top of that, people that ate more blueberries were found to have lower blood pressure than those that didn’t to the tune of five percent.
The good news doesn’t end there, as blueberries can also help you lower your cholesterol. The antioxidants in blueberries lower oxidation in the blood, which results in a lower LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Studies showed how effective this was for obese patients, who were able to get healthier hearts by introducing more blueberries in just two months.
No Pain, No Gain
Getting to the gym can be difficult, and it leaves many of us feeling sore and tired. Blueberries are great at helping you get through an exercise, thanks in part to the ability to help your body produce dopamine. That will help the mental aspect of exercise, but what about the physical? The minerals and antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to reduce muscle pain and help full recovery speed up. So for the gym rats, you might want to mix some blueberries into your pre-workout or post-workout drinks.
Summing it Up
Thanks to these fantastic benefits that we mentioned and the great taste that blueberries bring, you’d probably think that there’s nothing negative about eating blueberries. For the most part, that’s certainly true. Of course, there are some people that could be allergic to blueberries, and there’s always a chance of pesticides for non-organic blueberries, but these are always true of all fruits.
Outside of rare circumstances like that, the only thing you need to watch, really, is your overall fiber intake. Since blueberries bring a lot of fiber, you don’t want to overdo it as it could lead to digestive discomfort. Blueberries have also been shown to lower blood sugar, so you might not be able to take certain medications or eat too many if you have low blood sugar on a regular basis. Outside of those minor problems, blueberries are fantastic for your body in so many different ways, so eat them when you can!