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April 26, 2014 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

8 Healthy Reasons to Love Blueberries - and 7 Blueberry Recipes You're Going to Love

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

Over recent years, we've been through a lot of scientific analysis of vitamins only to come full circle with a realization -  a healthy diet yields better nutrition and more health benefits than a pill supplement ever could. As such, it is important to recognize the best foods with the most benefits for our diet. Let's talk about just one of those "superfood" stars - a tasty food with numerous potent health benefits - the blueberry!

Farmed Vs Wild Blueberries?

Blueberries are a fruit native to North America growing on perennial shrubs.  They are related to cranberries and bilberries (European blueberries).  The typical growing season is May through August depending on the weather.  While there are numerous species, blueberries typically fall into the larger berry "high bush" category or the smaller berry "low bush" category.  "Low bush" berries are also marketed as wild type blueberries.

Health Benefits

1. Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important in our body's defense against disease and exposures to toxins in the environment that can lead to cancer and blueberries are the most potent food known when it comes to antioxidants. In fact, the most prevalent antioxidant in blueberries, "anthocyanin"  is reason blueberrries are blue.

2. Cancer-Fighting: Research abounds with studies that suggest that blueberries enhance the body's ability to defend against cancer. While most of these studies are in the controlled lab setting using animal models, a few studies suggest that this carries over into humans.  Studies show that blueberry extract supplementation inhibits the rapid reproduction of cancer cells and even enhances programmed cell death within cancer cells.  These findings were shown in colon cancer cells, and a type of breast cancer.  A study following women noted that women eating higher amounts of blueberries in their diet had a 34% reduced rate of ovarian cancer.

3. Heart Healthy: Blueberries are also heart healthy.  A study at the University of Michigan gave mice in both high and low fat diet groups a blueberry supplement and then compared to a control group.  The blueberry groups had less belly fat and less resistance to insulin.  Belly fat and insulin resistance are big players in the "metabolic syndrome" that plagues modern humans and is linked to heart disease and diabetes. 

4. Eye Sight: Blueberries may reduce age-related vision loss called macular degeneration. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology showed that eating three or more servings of antioxidant-rich fruit such as blueberries reduced the onset of macular degeneration by 36%. Blueberries can also enhance nighttime visual acuity.  This was first noted by British Air Force pilots during World War II who would regularly eat bilberry jam before night missions.  Research has since substantiated these claims.

5. Brain Power: The brain also benefits from blueberries.  Flavonoids and other antioxidants found heavily in blueberries have been found to improve memory.  These compounds enhance brain signaling and memory.  Studies are ongoing in regards to benefits in Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's.

6. Healthy Digestion: Blueberries are also good for the bowels.  Prunes aside, these fiber-rich berries can absorb 10-15 times their weight in water.  This water soluble fiber, in-turn can enhance regular bowel movements in the face of constipation.

7. UTI Prevention: Like cranberries, blueberries also acidify the urine and make the bladder walls less likely to harbor bacteria. Though not a cure for bladder infections, regular consumption can increase the body's threshold for developing an infection.

8. Anti-Aging: Finally, blueberries, with their powerful antioxidant properties, help fight the damage that sunlight delivers to the skin.  Blueberries have demonstrated the ability to stave off damage and breakdown in the skin's collagen fibers by the sun.

Great Ways To Enjoy Blueberries

Food 52: Blueberry Superfood Smoothie

"I have been having this for breakfast for over 5 years. I vary the ingredients from time to time. Its loaded with super foods and great anti-oxidants. I love it following a long run as well. Add matcha green tea to the smoothie to jack up the anti-oxidant levels."

Step Into My Green World: Homemade Blueberry Jam

"This is an amazingly healthy blueberry jam recipe. Blueberries are fast becoming champions when it comes to their antioxidant and cancer preventing properties. Combine them with chia seeds and you have a potent recipe! So step in and make your own jam, you will control the ingredients and know it is not packed with artificial sweeteners that are so bad for you. We know how beneficial to our health blueberries, chia seeds and raw honey are!"

Amanda K. by the Bay: Balsamic Blueberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich

"The balsamic vinegar adds a nice tartness to the berries while making the flavor a little more complex. It's a subtle flavor, so don't worry. It's super tasty!"

SixtyOne45: Triple Fruit Rollups

"A blueberry, a strawberry & a rhubarb walk into a bar….…ya…that’s all I’ve got. And I am not even sure if “a rhubarb” is a thing. Whenever I can write a recipe that has 4 ingredients and an instruction that reads “put it in the oven and go to bed”, I am happy. Use whatever fruit/veggie you like."

Driscoll's: Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins

"New additions to your blueberry muffin recipe make them healthy yet still tasty. In baked goods, flax seed adds tenderness and moisture and replaces some of the added fat."

Mango & Tomato: Blueberry Pomegranate Popscles

"This is a great healthy dessert for yourself or if you have kids. And just think about possibilities: strawberries, peaches, watermelon or peach popsicles!"

Damy Health: Raw Blueberry Cheesecake

"This recipe is vegan, raw, gluten free, dairy free, no-bake, grain free, easy and delicious! This recipe is really easy but it looks like a gorgeous dessert. Everyone will love it!"

Blueberries are a antioxidant powerhouse.  Their health benefits are too numerous to ignore as a food that should be put regularly into the diet.  And, as an added bonus, they taste great!  With blueberry season just around the corner, I recommend that you get them into your diet on a regular basis.

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1 Comment

  • I love blueberries.

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