The many health benefits of blueberries have resulted in it being referred to as one of the world’s superfoods. Blueberries are high in fiber and vitamin content, while also low in calories. They are also known for their beneficial antioxidant properties. Some examples of body systems that they have been shown to benefit include overall heart health, effective digestion, and urinary tract function. Recent studies have suggested that blueberries can also potentially ward off a number of other health problems, such as high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries come from a shrub belonging to the genus Vaccinium of the heath or Ericaceae family. One of the health benefits of blueberries is that they contain various micronutrients that are deemed essential to the human body. The berries are high in vitamins C and E, both of which are also considered antioxidants. Blueberries also contain the dietary mineral manganese, which has several reported benefits, including the promotion of bone and nerve health. They are a source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which aid digestion. A good low-calorie food choice, one cup (145 grams) of blueberries contains only about 80 calories.
In addition to their high nutritional value, blueberries are also known for their beneficial antioxidants. They contain anthocyanins, the pigments that give some berries their dark hues. The antioxidant properties of the anthocyanins in blueberries are believed to fight off free radicals that lead to ailments such as heart disease and certain types of cancers. They are also believed to help preserve vision and protect eye health.
A recent study in which the subjects consumed blueberry juice suggests that the anthocyanins in blueberries can also fight memory loss, as well as other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, in some older adults. Additional studies about the health benefits of blueberries have demonstrated that they might also lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. Another antioxidant in blueberries, called epicatechin, has a medical effect similar to that of cranberries, which have been shown to help support urinary tract health.
The berries are produced throughout North and South America, as well as in some parts of Europe and Asia. In order to maximize the health benefits of blueberries, most nutritionists recommend enjoying them between May and October, when North American-grown blueberries are at their peak of season. Both fresh and frozen berries generally contain the same health benefits. Less information is available, however, about the effectiveness of blueberries’ properties when they are ingredients in processed foods.