Properties and Benefits of Blueberries: Over the past few years people have started to take great interest in the amazing health properties of the common blueberry. Generally, the blueberry varieties available on the market come from either Europe (and are scientifically known as Vaccinium myrtillus) or the US (in which case they are called Vaccinium cyanococcus).
Basically, the only difference between them is that the European blueberries are a wild variety, while the American ones are especially cultivated for consumption. However, they are both just as health-friendly. But why have these fruit become so popular? The reason for this sudden appreciation of blueberries is due to their incredibly potent antioxidant content.
As you may already know, antioxidants are nature’s secret weapon against free radicals, nasty compounds that can seriously damage cell structure and harm DNA configuration. If consumed fresh, blueberries can neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, reducing the risk of developing serious medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.
But remember: if you want to fully enjoy the amazing properties and health benefits of blueberries, it is recommended that you consume them raw. Do not cook them and try not to add any sugar. You will certainly be able to appreciate the uniquely sweet flavour of real blueberries in no time. If they are not in season, you can purchase frozen blueberries which are just as nutritious because the freezing process does not influence (and by this I mean reduce) their nutritional value.
Extensive research has shown that these tiny deep-purple fruit can efficiently improve memory and concentration. The experiments carried out by researchers reached the following conclusions: subjects who ate blueberries on a daily basis for 12 weeks had considerably higher scores on various tests aiming to assess different cognitive functions. Among them, memory and concentration ranked highest.
Such health benefits are a result of the high antioxidant content of blueberries. However, their antioxidant capacity is significantly influenced by them being organic or not. Indeed, blueberries are more likely to be health friendly if their are not sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, which not only reduce their antioxidant capacity, but also slowly poisons us.
Blueberries are also highly beneficial for our cardiovascular system; in addition to this, they are said to reduce stress and help protect the nervous sytem against neurodegenerative diseases. Blueberries help lower triglycerides levels in the bloodstream which results in lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
In individuals with high blood pressure, blueberries are often recommended in order to help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, thus keeping high blood pressure under control. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two equally important phytochemicals found in blueberries, bring about significant health benefits as well. Preliminary laboratory studies on animals have concluded that both lutein and zeaxanthin protect the retina from damage caused by oxidation and ultraviolet rays from sunlight.
In addition to this, it appears that they can even slow down the progression of degenerative eye conditions, related especially to macular (central) vision. These natural antioxidants are basically prerequisites for a healthy vision. For this reason blueberries are considered highly beneficial, especially for people with diabetes, who are also dealing with eyesight problems.
Besides phytochemicals, and anthocyanin pigments, blueberries are an amazing cocktail of nutrients and dietary fiber. The latter is one of the best remedies for constipation and a great solution for anyone looking for a safe and easy way to lose weight. As far as vitamins are concerned, 100 g of blueberries contain significant amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C as well as a decent combination of B-group vitamins, from which vitamin B6 stands out.
Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation and healthy bones (with future applications in Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease currently being studied), while vitamin C has amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. B-group vitamins ensure the proper distribution of energy from metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and proteins, macronutrients from food.
Blueberries are also rich in dietary minerals such as manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Manganese is a potent antioxidant, zinc is a great immune system booster, while potassium regulates blood pressure and body fluids while nuetralizing excess sodium in our body. All things considered, would you add a cup of fresh blueberries to your mouth-watering slice of pie or morning cereal?