Health Benefits of Blueberries

Kathleen Roberts
Just a cup a day provides many benefits.
Just a cup a day provides many benefits.

The health benefits of blueberries may change your thinking if you think these tasty little treats are only good for snacking.

Blueberries

Many people enjoy blueberries as a yummy, healthy treat. They can be eaten fresh, frozen to enjoy out of season, made into syrups, blended into juices and baked into a variety of goods including muffins, pancakes and waffles.

Picking wild blueberries is almost more fun than eating them. However, people aren't the only ones who enjoy blueberries. Be sure you know the area if you are out blueberry picking and watch for all types of wildlife from birds and squirrels to bears. Caution is warranted or your day of picking berries may be more of an adventure than you had planned!

Heath Benefits of Blueberries

Besides tasting terrific, there are many health benefits of blueberries. In a study conducted by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, amount of blueberries equivalent to one cup a day in humans was given to rats. They discovered some surprising and exciting results.

  • Slowed aging
  • Reduced age-related loss of mental function
  • Increased exploratory behavior

Even though this results were seen in rats, the implications were very promising for people. In another study in humans, it was found that as little as one cup a day of blueberries produced a five to six percent improvement in motor skills thanks to the anthocyanins, antioxidants that encourage the growth of neurons in the brain. What a delicious way to combat aging.

A study conducted by Rutgers University showed that health benefits connected with blueberries include better urinary tract health. Blueberries contain proanthocyanidins which are shown to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections. They do this in the same way that cranberries do, by preventing bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract. Proanthocyanidins also keep blood vessels healthy and can help reduce blood pressure. Clearly, the health benefits of blueberries warrant further exploration!

Nutritional Advantages

Many fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. However, according to scientists, one cup of blueberries has a higher ORAC rating than any other fruit.

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, and a high rating means that the item in question has a stronger ability to combat free radicals which can cause cancer. One cup of blueberries offers 9019 ORAC. For comparison, one cup of cranberries has 8983 ORAC and acai berries have only 5500. If you've been considering expensive acai supplements for the antioxidant benefits, consider blueberries as a viable, inexpensive alternative.

This anti-oxidative effect is due to high levels of anthocyanins, which cause that deep blue color, and phenols, which protect against oxidation that can lead to heart disease, stroke and cancer. Comparing acai berries to blueberries again, acai has 320 mg of anthocyanins per 100 grams of fruit. Blueberries have 558 mg in the same amount of fruit and provide 85 mg of phenols per 100 grams of fruit.

Other nutrients that create the healthful benefits of blueberries include vitamins C and E. One cup of blueberries provide 14 mg of vitamin C and .8 mg of vitamin E.

Good Medicine

Blueberries are good medicine without a doubt. Loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Enjoy as little as a cup a day to take advantage of the anti-aging benefits as well as avoiding UTIs and other illnesses.

Blueberries are inexpensive, unlike some "superfoods" that are difficult to acquire and expensive as well. You can easily find them in your grocery store or you can even grow your own.

Health Benefits of Blueberries