Blueberries are one of the world’s most popular berries, not only because of their sweet flavor and delicious dark purple color, but also because they host a wide variety of health benefits ranging from fighting cancer and maintaining brain health to improving memory, eyesight and skin conditions.
Blueberries are particularly high in phyto-nutrients, and they are one of the world’s highest natural food sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants combat free radicals, protect the cells and give defense from oxidative stress. The berries’ dark color comes from anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been studied to protect the eye retina from oxygen damage as well as damage from sunlight. In addition, anthocyanins help in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Blueberries host a variety of minerals and vitamins to aid health: just one cup of blueberries contains almost 25% of recommended daily dose of vitamin C, which helps in collagen formation and maintains healthy immune system. They are also a great source of vitamins A, B, E and K. Blueberries also include manganese that helps in bone development and converting carbohydrates and fats into energy, copper which is effective immune builder and anti-bacterial, as well as other important minerals such as zinc and calcium.
Blueberries, as well as other berries, have a low GI (glycemic index), making them a healthy as well as tasty option for snacking without blood sugar spikes. Blueberries can help in weight loss, since they are very low in fat, and jam-packed with fibre to help you feel fuller longer: just a handful of blueberries can satisfy your daily fibre need, and the fibre also helps with constipation. Blueberries have been studied to improve blood fat balances, to lower cholesterol and support healthy blood pressure as well as help in treating and preventing urinary tract infections.
Use blueberries as a quick snack, thrown into delicious fruit smoothies, hidden in raw or cold desert, sprinkled on breakfast foods such granola and cereals and more. Blueberries are especially great when used in post workout recovery shakes as the anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients will aid the repair of damaged muscle cells. As a pre-workout snack blueberries can help lift the mood by improving cognitive function and can even help you avoid larger food cravings, as the fibre keeps you filled ensuring you don’t over eat before exercise.
If you want to be sure you getting all possible antioxidants and other health benefits from blueberries, choose organically grown or wild forest berries. Blueberries do not lose their health benefits when frozen or freeze-dried, but heating the berries destroys some of their antioxidant potential.