Blueberries are one of the most popular types of berries. But what do you eat blueberries for? Most people who eat blueberries do so because of their antioxidant content, one of the highest values in foods. But what are other reasons to eat blueberries? What makes blueberries good for you aside from the fact that you get lots of antioxidants from them?
What are the benefits of eating blueberries?
1) Blueberries are sodium-free
One of the biggest benefits of eating blueberries is they pretty much don’t have any sodium. According to USDA.gov, blueberries have just 1 (one) milligram of sodium per 100 grams. One cup of blueberries at 148 grams provides just 1.48 milligrams of sodium.
The average adult on 2000 kcal (kilocalories) a day can have up to 2300 milligrams (or 2.3 grams) of sodium in a day. This makes blueberries essentially sodium-free and a great food to eat if you have high blood pressure.
2) Blueberries are a proven anti-inflammatory food
Anyone looking to eat healthy, or healthier, will automatically go for high-antioxidant, anti-inflammatory foods which are seen as the epitome of healthy food. According to research, ‘among the more important healthful aspects of blueberries are their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions’.
In a randomized controlled trial, ‘a reduction was documented in inflammatory markers, including serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1, and plasma IL-1β’ in subjects with high blood cholesterol who had been receiving purified anthocyanins extracted from blueberries for 24 weeks (see controlled trial).
Studies further show ‘berry intake supports the growth of favorable mucin-producing bacteria that can protect of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which may mitigate lower intestinal and systemic inflammation’ (consult source).
3) Blueberries help combat constipation
One of the best reasons to eat blueberries regularly is they help combat constipation. You get 2.4 grams of dietary fiber from just 100 grams of raw blueberries and 3.55 grams from one cup of 148 grams of blueberries. This is an excellent amount that contributes measurably to daily values.
The average adult needs at least 50 grams of dietary fiber a day and 100 grams of blueberries can get them 8.6% of daily values, while one cup (148 grams) 12.6% of daily values for dietary fiber. Dietary fiber in blueberries helps regulate digestion time and bowel movement consistency, resulting in softer, but well-formed stools that are easy to pass.
Not just this, but dietary polyphenols in blueberries, and other berries such as cranberries, have been found to modulate gut flora populations (consult source). The changes in the structure of gut bacteria and other types of flora produced by whole foods in their natural state support normal bowel movements and a more regular transit time, with benefits for constipation relief.
4) Blueberries correct low blood sugar
If you have low blood sugar, then eating a handful of blueberries is all you need to boost your blood sugar and energy levels. Blueberries are, on average, 10% sugar with close to 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams. See more nutrition facts for blueberries per 100 grams, with percentages of daily values.
The amount of sugar in 100 grams of blueberries is the equivalent of 2 small packets of sugar at 5 grams each. The benefit is that it’s not added sugar, but sugar you would normally and naturally get in the diet.
Not to mention that blueberries are whole foods, utterly unprocessed, and rich in antioxidants, with scientifically proven anti-inflammatory effects. The sugar you are getting from them doesn’t take away from any of their benefits.
5) Blueberries have antidiabetic properties
That’s right: blueberries both help raise blood sugar levels by providing actual sugar to the diet, and help with blood sugar control, among other antidiabetic benefits.
First, while the sugar you get from eating blueberries is absorbed into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels, the rise is gradual and controlled due to the good amounts of dietary fiber in the berries which prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Second, antioxidants in blueberries have been found to actively protect against metabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes, findings being ‘supported by biomarker-based evidence from human clinical studies’ (source). The bulk of the antidiabetic benefits of blueberries are owed to their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action modulating metabolic markers.
Animal studies show supplementation of the diet with blueberries improves insulin resistance and glucose tolerance in obese mice, while inhibiting weight gain (source). In another animal study, deffated soybean flour enriched with blueberry anthocyanins was found to reduce ‘weight gain by 5.6%’, improve ‘glucose tolerance, and lower fasting blood glucose levels in mice’ (source).
Not just this, but studies show ‘berry intake supports the growth of favorable mucin-producing bacteria that can protect of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which may mitigate lower intestinal and systemic inflammation and improve metabolic outcomes’, protecting against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance (source 1, source 2).
6) Blueberries provide neuroprotection and improve memory
Did you know that eating blueberries is good for the nervous system? Of all the reasons why blueberries are good for you, the lower risk for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases is probably one of the most exciting.
According to research, markers for cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases (e.g. obesity, insulin resistance) represent risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases and associated cognitive decline later in life. A high intake of berries such as blueberries and other berries high in antioxidants not just reduces risk factors favoring the early onset of pathological cognitive decline, but has also been found to improve ‘cognitive performance in elderly adults’ (source 1, source 2, source 3).
Among the findings, lower risks of Parkinson’s disease have been observed in people with the highest intakes of anthocyanins from berries, and berries (consult study). Similarly, a ‘greater intake of blueberries and strawberries was associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older adults, with an estimated delay in decline of about 2.5 years’ (consult source).
‘Age-related improvements were also observed in old mice’ (source). ‘Blueberry-related improvements in long-term spatial memory of rodents is widely reported’, as are varied other cognitive benefits such as benefits for working memory and learning (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4).
7) Blueberries are good for the heart and increase longevity
Eating blueberries can be just as good for the heart and vascular system as eating grapes and drinking wine. For one, blueberries naturally have resveratrol, the same compound in grapes and wine that is attributed benefits such as better cardiovascular health and increased longevity.
Resveratrol in blueberries, and pterostilbene, have been found to ‘have beneficial effects as anti-aging compounds through modulating the hallmarks of aging, including oxidative damage, inflammation, telomere attrition and cell senescence’ (source).
In addition to this, antioxidants in blueberries such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), anthocyanins and other flavonoids prevent lipid peroxidation and exert important anti-inflammatory effects that reduce risks of vascular disease, including atherosclerosis.
The good amount of dietary fiber in blueberries further contributes to lower total and LDL cholesterol, dubbed bad cholesterol. Healthier cholesterol levels together with the anti-inflammatory action exerted by bioactive constituents in the berries contributes to a lower risk of plaque buildup on the inside of artery walls. Blueberries are also virtually sodium free which makes them a very good food to eat for high blood pressure.
8) Blueberries are good for bones and teeth
Why eat blueberries? Because blueberries are good for your bones and teeth. Even though they have a modest nutritional value, blueberries stand out as a good source of vitamin C providing a little over 10% of daily values for an adult in every 100 grams of fresh berries, and 16% of daily values for vitamin K.
Vitamin C is needed to produce special types of collagen needed to build bones and teeth. The collagen present in bones and teeth is responsible both for their flexibility, which confers resistance to fractures, and strength.
Furthermore, enough vitamin C in the diet is needed for the regulation of gene transcription in bone ‘related to the the maturation and normal function of osteoblasts’, cells that produce new bone continually throughout one’s life (study).
Vitamin K from blueberries helps with the synthesis of several proteins in bone as well as the synthesis of essential enzymes that are directly involved in bone metabolism and maintaining a healthy bone mineral density. See what other vitamins you need for strong, healthy bones.
9) Blueberries are good for your gums and teeth
You’d think fruit cause cavities because they have sugar so they can’t possibly be good for your teeth. But they can. While of course the sugar in fruit is bad for your teeth, the vitamins and antioxidants are very good.
For one, blueberries have a good content of vitamin C, providing 10% of daily values for the average adult in every 100 grams. Vitamin C strengthens capillary walls which helps with bleeding gums. Not just this, but it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits that advance gum health.
Just as important, vitamin C from blueberries stimulates the production of collagen, providing structural benefits that help gums stay attached to teeth. This contributes to reduced risks for teeth loss. The high content of antioxidants such as anthocyanins further exert an anti-inflammatory action with a healthful impact on oral health.
This post was updated on Tuesday / October 5th, 2021 at 9:18 PM