The term “superfood” may not have a strict definition, but no matter what foods make your list, blueberries will almost certainly be included. These blueish-purple berries are certainly tasty, widely available, and relatively inexpensive, but what attracts many people to them is the surprisingly long list of health benefits these little berries provide. In helping to prevent heart disease, lowering blood pressure, helping to manage cholesterol, and even possibly help slow cognitive decline, blueberries are a nutritionist’s secret weapon.
There are many fruits that are extremely healthy for you, but one of the main benefits unique to blueberries is the presence of polyphenols. These antioxidant compounds, known as flavonoids, help to prevent or control the damage to tissues caused by free radicals. Blueberries’ high antioxidant capacity comes in the form of several nutrients such as vitamin C, but blueberries also get an extra antioxidant kick from a particular type of flavonoid called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are found in high concentrations in foods that are typically dark purple, red, or bluish in color. These foods include beets, purple sweet potatoes, red cabbage, and cranberries, all of which are packed with essential nutrients.
Aside from the presence of polyphenols, blueberries have a range of health benefits. Though people typically think of citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, or even limes when they are looking for a boost of vitamin C, it turns out that blueberries can also provide this essential nutrient. There is a long list of benefits to eating blueberries, as they are a good source of so many vitamins and minerals including:
Blueberries are packed with many nutrients our bodies need, but they are also low on the things many people are looking to avoid. Blueberries have a low glycemic load, meaning the natural sugars in blueberries do not raise blood sugar levels the way an equivalent amount of natural or artificial sweeteners would. This makes blueberries particularly attractive to people with insulin sensitivities or type 2 diabetes.
Blueberries are also relatively low in carbohydrates compared to many other types of fruit. Though a cup of blueberries has 17 grams of carbs, this is just over half the amount you would get from a cup of raisins.
Often overlooked among the other health benefits of blueberries is that they are a low-calorie food. Despite being nutrient-dense, a cup of blueberries only contains 84 calories, which is less than a quarter of the number of calories found in a serving of avocado, raisins, or pineapple.
The phrase “all things in moderation” certainly applies to food, and blueberries are no exception. Thankfully, overindulging in these tasty little berries won’t typically have drastic consequences to your health, though you might find yourself in the urgent need of a bathroom. Blueberries are high in dietary fiber, which means eating too many can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating.
Blueberries are also very high in vitamin K, and while this important nutrient is essential for things like bone health and blood clotting, having too much of it can lead to a range of issues. A vitamin K overdose can result in difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, fainting, and irregular breathing. Thankfully, vitamin K overdoses are very rare, and they are certainly no reason to avoid eating this tasty fruit.
Eating blueberries has been recommended as a way to improve brain health, especially in older adults. As we age, the oxidative stress of free radicals can contribute to cognitive decline. Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse that can help to slow this effect.
Research is increasingly showing that what we eat has an impact on long-term health. Conditions like metabolic syndrome are emerging as indicators of your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and your risk of heart disease. With weight loss on many people’s minds, finding foods that can provide nutrients while helping to lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart attack, and are low in calories and carbohydrates are important. Here, blueberries certainly fit the bill.
Many fruits can bring a range of health benefits to food products, but blueberries have one more trick up their sleeve, which is their deep bluish-purple color. For products that need a rich, vibrant color, blueberries are hard to beat.
Like all fruit varieties, proper handling, storage, and transport is essential to maintaining the nutrition and flavor people are looking for. At FruitSmart, we work to provide the best solutions possible to your toughest challenges in food production. We go beyond quality juices to provide essences, purees, and even dry ingredients, all made with the same commitment to quality and food safety. If you are interested in learning more about how our blueberry options, and our entire line of products, can become the cornerstone of the great foods and beverages you are looking to produce, contact us today to learn more.