When it comes to antioxidants and their health benefits, guess which fruit tops the lot. Everyone knows that antioxidants are crucial to maintain and recover our health, and blueberries, out of all the fruits and vegetables contain the most.
These tasty berries are one of the few fruits native to North America. The berries, leaves and roots were used for medicinal purposes, and by looking at the health benefits of blueberries explained below, you will understand why.
Heart Health – Heart diseases are no laughing matter so you need to protect your ticker from all those diseases. The vast antioxidants, high fiber content and the ability to dissolve LDL (the bad cholesterol), makes blueberries an ideal dietary supplement to cure many heart diseases.
Many studies show that red wine is good for the heart and that this is due to its source of a phyto nutrient called anthocyanin. This nutrient so happens to be found in blueberries as well, with the difference that blueberries contain 38% more of anthocyanins, than in red wine.
Eye Health – Due to their ability to relieve eyestrain, blueberries in Japan are actually nicknamed “the vision fruit”. The various vitamins, minerals and lutein (a carotenoid pigment found in plants and egg yolk) found in blueberries are known to help age related vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day can lower your risk by as much as 35% of age related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is the main cause of vision loss in adults.
In World War II the British Air Force pilots were often given bilberry preserves (a cousin of the blueberry family) before they flew for their night missions, so as to improve their night vision and to adapt to different levels of light.
Reduces Belly Fat – A study in the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study showed that blueberry intake affected genes linked to fat burning and storage. The test subjects were rats that were fed powdered freeze-dried blueberries. The results were that these rats had less abdominal fat, lower cholesterol and lower triglycerides (blood fats). Of course more studies are needed to prove these same findings on humans.
Brain Health – A few studies have shown that blueberries can improve brain function and can combat the start and the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies have also shown that by regular intake of these small berries, they can repair damaged brain cells improving the overall functionality of the brain.
A small study by the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center reviewed the effect of daily consumption of wild blueberry juice on older adults. After 12 weeks the participants with the blueberry juice intake showed improved memory function.
Anti-Cancer Benefits – Another nutrient that blueberries contain in abundance is a flavonoid by the name of kaempferol. A research with over 60,000 women participants in a Nurses Health Study between 1984 and 2002 showed that women whose diets provided the most kaempferol had a 40% reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer.
As you can see the health benefits of blueberries are enormous and everyone should consider adding them in their health diet. But as all superfoods you should use in moderation to gain all the benefits. It would also be wise to consult your physician with adding any kind of food to your diet.
NOTE: If you would like to add comments on the above article or if you have any personal opinions and know of other health benefits of blueberries, we would be grateful and honored if you shared your thoughts and ideas in the "comment" section below. Adding blueberry recipes would also be a big bonus.
Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, preferably whole-wheat
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
Pinch of salt
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries
1. To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
3. Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine.
4. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan.
5. Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
6. To prepare filling: Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust.
7. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.
Blueberry-Banana Frozen Yogurt
1 quart blueberries
2/3 cup sliced ripe banana, (1 medium)
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup instant-dissolving sugar
1/4 cup frozen orange-juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon black currant syrup
1. Puree blueberries in a food processor. To remove skins, force the puree through a fine strainer into a bowl.
2. Add bananas to the food processor and puree. Add the strained blueberry puree, yogurt, sugar, orange-juice concentrate and black currant syrup and process just until mixed in. If necessary, chill until cold.
3. Pour into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternatively, freeze the mixture in a shallow metal cake pan until solid, about 6 hours.
4. Break into chunks and process in a food processor until smooth.)
Approx.calories 175 per serving