Blueberries, like all berries are in the “sour” category of foods. Sour foods are good for bringing balance to the liver and gallbladder.
Blueberries have many health benefits, which are supported by scientific research. Here’s a little more about them:-
Blueberries come under the category of OPCs foods, which stand for Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins. OPCs help our bodies regulate blood sugar. Consequently they can induce weight loss as well as reverse the cell stress and inflammation that is a contributor to diabetes and obesity.
A one-cup serving (c.148g) contains 4g of fibre; 24% of the daily-recommended amount of Vitamin C; 36% of the daily-recommended amount of Vitamin K and 25% of the daily-recommended amount of Manganese
They are made up of 85% water and one cup contains only 84 calories
Vitamin C is an important natural antioxidant, which is capable of blocking some of the damage caused by free radicals in our body as well as boosting our immune system against colds etc
Vitamin K is a blood coagulant, which also helps metabolize our bones
Manganese is an important antioxidant
Antioxidants are extremely important for our bodies. They are the free-radical scavengers. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells and contribute to dis-ease becoming present in our bodies, leading to diabetes and other inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease and cancer
There are indications that blueberries and blackberries are vying for the highest antioxidant value. Both contain exceptionally high levels of antioxidants, so eating either is a good thing! I guess that, as blueberries are now much more freely available all year round than blackberries, it would be easier to consume more of this particular fruit
Due to the high antioxidant levels in blueberries, they can help to reduce DNA damage in the body. This damage is caused by something called oxidative stress, which is caused by increases in acidic levels in our bodies. Antioxidants help to reverse acid in the body and increase the alkaline levels. DNA damage is part of the reason why we age. It also, though, plays a big part in the development of diseases like cancer. So anything that can help to reverse this damage is a great thing, and antioxidants are just the ticket!
One set of research of the effects of antioxidants on the body was carried out over a 4-week period. 168 participants were instructed to drink one litre of a blueberry and apple juice mix every day. At the end of the study, DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20%
One of the other benefits of antioxidants is that they can help to reduce the LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, which are also affected negatively by oxidative damage in our body. Therefore, high levels of antioxidants are great for reducing the “bad” cholesterol and also increasing the levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol. A daily 50g serving of blueberries was shown to lower LDL oxidation by 27% in obese participants after a period of eight weeks
Another study showed that 75g of blueberries after a main meal significantly reduced the oxidation of LDL in the body
It has also been shown in other research that blueberries may also lower blood pressure. In one study carried out, obese individuals who were at a high risk of heart disease, showed a 4-6% reduction in blood pressure after consuming 50g of blueberries per day for eight weeks
Antioxidants are also fabulous for brain health. Oxidative stress can accelerate the brain’s ageing process and thus can have a negative effect on brain function. Due to the anti-ageing properties of antioxidants, it may well be that brain function can be improved and thus memory, too. As blueberries are so high in antioxidants, consuming them each day may help to maintain and improve both brain and memory functions in humans
There have been various studies over the years of different fruits and foods high in antioxidants on elderly people suffering from mild cognitive impairment. In each study, an improvement has always been seen. In one six-year study on 16,010 elderly participants in the States, it was concluded that consuming regular amounts of blueberries and strawberries were linked to delays in cognitive ageing by up to 2 ½ years
One of the inflammatory conditions that can result from oxidative stress is diabetes; thus consuming fruits that are high in antioxidants could help to reverse this trend in the body and thus help to protect us against contracting diabetes. The further benefit of blueberries is that they are moderate in levels of sugar when compared to other fruits, so are beneficial to people who already have diabetes. Research has shown that the particular flavonoid (a type of antioxidant) in blueberries, which is called anthocyanins, can have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. In one study of 32 obese people with insulin resistance, a blueberry smoothie resulted in major improvements in insulin sensitivity
Anything that can improve insulin sensitivity, such as foods high in antioxidants, can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a great thing!
It may well be that substances in blueberries could also help to prevent urinary tract infections. Blueberries are related to cranberries, which have known qualities to help prevent such infections, and indeed help to stabilise and reverse the condition when one is suffering from a urinary tract infection. The substances found in both these berries are called anti-adhesives and these help to prevent bacteria like E.coli from attaching to the sides of the bladder. Although there have only been a few studies on blueberries in this regard, they may have a similar effect to cranberries due to their relation to them.