7 Health Benefits of Blueberries

Health benefits of blueberries - Dr. Axe

Blueberries are absolutely one of my favorite foods to eat. I try to eat them every day and just love them in my morning Berry Protein Smoothie!

Native to North America, blueberries are rich in proanthocyanidin, the natural antioxidant that’s proven to fight cancer, lose weight and give you glowing young skin.

Natural medicine has long held that these round purple berries give long-life health benefits that far exceed their tiny size.


Blueberry Nutrition Facts

Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world and contain large levels and a broad range of antioxidants. The ORAC score of blueberries is an incredible 9,621, which makes it one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world. Consuming just one cup of blueberries provides the following nutrients:

  • Resveratrol
  • Gallic acid
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Vitamin K (36 percent DV)
  • Vitamin C (25 percent DV)
  • Manganese (25 percent DV)
  • Fiber (17 percent DV)

Blueberries Research on Gallic Acid

Of all the nutritional components of the blueberry, gallic acid stands out for a couple reasons. One, most people have never heard of it, and it is definitely worthy of mention.

Second, it has been thoroughly researched. At the point of writing this article, almost 6,500 peer-reviewed scientific articles referenced gallic acid, so it’s safe to assume that the health claims laid out here are anything but “experimental.”

Third, as the research indicates, gallic acid is a powerful antifungal/antiviral agent and is an extremely effective antioxidant.

This combination makes gallic acid-rich foods like blueberries a natural medicine powerhouse not to be reckoned with!


Top 7 Health Benefits of Blueberries

After learning about the nutritional facts of blueberries, I’m sure you can see how challenging it was to narrow down the top health benefits of blueberries to just seven. But after some extensive research, I feel pretty confident that this list does the mighty purple fruit justice!

1. Combat aging

Antioxidants are your best friend to keep Father Time at bay. They help reverse damage done by toxins and free radicals and help your body defend itself against dangerous pathogens.

Not only are blueberries rich in antioxidants as a whole, but they are especially rich in proanthocyanidins, which have been observed to have additional anti-aging properties in several animal studies.

Much of the research has linked this to the ability of proanthocyanidins to reverse inflammation, the No. 1 of chronic disease in the world. Inflammation is at the root of most diseases and taxes the body like no other — it causes heart disease, diabetes, cancer and almost every illness known to man.

2. Boost the Brain

Because they contain such a high amount of phenols, particularly gallic acid, blueberries are known as “neuro-protective agents.” According to researchers from Iran, this means that they can literally protect our brains from degeneration, neurotoxicity and oxidative stress.

Some other foods high in gallic acid are known for their brain power as well. Brain foods that boost focus and memory include:

Another study found that consuming more blueberries slowed cognitive decline and improved memory and motor function. The scientists in this study believed these results were due to the antioxidants in blueberries that protect the body from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.

3. Fight Cancer

Clinical studies have even discovered that, unlike radiation and chemotherapy strategies, gallic acid-rich foods like blueberries can kill cancer without harming healthy cells!

For instance, the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology published a study evaluating the anticancer effects gallic acid has on breast cancer cells. Like countless studies before, researchers discovered that blueberries and gallic acid slow and even destroy breast cancer.

Blueberry benefits cancer primarily due to their wide range of antioxidants, with gallic acid the primary and resveratrol also offering support.

4. Support Digestion

Being a natural source of soluble and insoluble fiber, blueberries can help regulate your gastrointestinal track by just eating a couple handfuls a day.

In fact, University of Maine researcher Vivian Chi-Hua Wu states that, “Addition of wild blueberries to diet can alter the balance of gut microbe in favor of members of the Actinobacteria phylum.” Wu and her team discovered that wild blueberries have prebiotic potential, which promotes growth of good bacteria (probiotics) in the colon and promotes digestive and health benefit.

5. Promote Heart Health

The journal Circulation published a study showing that eating strawberries and blueberries together has a superpower tag-team effect that actually decreases your risk of heart attack by up to 33 percent.

After conducting research with more than 93,000 women 25 to 42 years of age, they did not observe this type of benefit in other types of antioxidants that were studied. Blueberry health benefits have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol naturally, raise HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure naturally.

6. Benefit the Skin

Blueberry extract skin care products are becoming very popular around the world. It’s been reported that the wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals help restore hormone balance, which counteracts acne. That makes blueberries an excellent home remedy for acne.

Also, blueberries contain resveratrol, which is proven to reduce damage from over-sun exposure and can naturally darken your skin. Along with blueberry skin benefits, they have also been shown to naturally treat macular degeneration and improve vision.

7. Aid Weight Loss

Being low in calories, low on the glycemic index and high in fiber, everyone has at three reasons to eat blueberries to lose weight! According to the Mayo Clinic:

Because low glycemic index foods are absorbed more slowly, they stay in your digestive tract longer. This is why these foods are sometimes called slow carbs. These foods may help control appetite and delay hunger cues, which can help with weight management. Balanced blood sugar also can help reduce the risk of insulin resistance.


Healthy Blueberry Recipes

To preserve their nutritional content, make every effort to eat blueberries in their fresh, natural form. This isn’t to say, however, that making some my favorite Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes is unhealthy for you. I just want to stress the importance of implementing more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to fight cancer and slow aging.

One of my favorite raw blueberry recipes is Blueberry Pudding made with coconut milk and probiotic-rich kefir!

Blueberry Pudding Recipe

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

1. Blend all ingredients together in a high-powered blender.
2. Refrigerate for four hours.


References:

· Maria D, et al. Gallic Acid and Related Compounds as Neuroprotective Agents: You are What You Eat! Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014 Jun 16. [Epub ahead of print]
· Natural Remedies. Gallic acid. Available at: http://www.naturalremedies.org/gallic-acid/
· Wu-yang Huang, et al. Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. Feb 2012; 13(2): 94–102.
· Wang K, et al. Investigation of Gallic Acid Induced Anticancer Effect in Human Breast Carcinoma MCF-7 Cells. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2014 May 27.
· Cassidy A, et al. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96.
· UMaine News. Blueberries Can Benefit Digestive Health, Says UMaine Researcher. Available at: https://umaine.edu/news/blog/2013/07/01/a-gut-response/

Read Next: Goji Berries – Antioxidant & Anti-Inflammatory Superfruit

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