What are the benefits of eating blueberries? Is it true that this super fruit has anti – aging properties? Any help the body can get not only to protect it from disease and slow down the aging process is always welcome, and more especially for seniors.
Blueberries have a wide range of micronutrients that not only protect the body from diseases, but also the physiological changes that bring about aging. Eat or use them fresh for recipes or incorporate blueberry supplements into your daily routine.
This article reviews the health benefits of eating blueberries, and highlights the role they may play in anti-aging. These benefits fall under 10 categories as listed below:
1. High Nutrient Density but Has Low Calories
The blueberry is a very popular berry. It is low in calories but high in fiber, and rich in vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese. It belongs among the high nutrient density berries.
A -cup serving of blueberries contains about 85% water, 0.8 mg Vitamin E, 15 grams of carbohydrates and packs only 84 calories.
2. High Antioxidant Levels
Blueberries, along with blackberries, strawberries, and plums, have the highest total antioxidant capacity of any food.
It is viewed as one of the “super fruits” with a combination of high nutrient value, research evidence of health benefits, easy manufacture as popular consumer products, and high antioxidant levels.
What are Antioxidants and what do they do?
We often hear the words “antioxidants” and “free radicals” being used, but most people do not really know what they are or what they do – nor do they care to know! Let’s try to put them in simple context…..
There are unstable molecules in the body called “free radicals.” Unfortunately, these molecules actively damage other normal cells prematurely and prevent them from fully repairing or re-growing.
In some cases, the damage from free radicals can lead to the development of cancerous growths.
Natural antioxidants in the body help to combat free radicals and protect other normal cells. A correlation has been demonstrated between certain levels of antioxidants and free radicals which helps to slow or prevent cancer.
What’s the Benefit of Eating Blueberries? Antioxidants in Blueberries
The dark skin of blueberries is high in antioxidants. In fact, out of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables, blueberries have the highest concentration of anti-oxidants.
Regular consumption of blueberries, especially wild blueberries, can help prevent and repair cell damage.
Antioxidants aid in guarding the body against the detrimental effects of free radicals (unstable molecules) to cells and contribute to aging and chronic diseases ( Peng et al 2014).
It is believed that blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels among common fruits and vegetables (Wolfe et al 2008)
Blueberries also contain anthocyanins and phenolics that can act as antioxidants. Blueberries have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels in your body.
The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family called flavonoids (Rodriguez-Mateos et al 2012). It is believed that one group of these flavonoids called anthocyanins is responsible for most of the beneficial health effects this indigo berry.
3. Protect the Neurons
The compound anthocyanin, found in blueberries, is thought to slow down age-related loss in the mental capacity of humans.
Those who eat more blueberries are thought to have better functioning in motor behavioral learning and memory. Anthocyanin also gives blueberries their color and might be the key factor of the blueberry’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
While it is thought that aging can decrease cognitive and motor functions, blueberries can be of huge help to improve mental functioning.
Blueberries are high in antioxidants, compounds that help prevent oxidative DNA by inhibiting the power of damaging free radicals in the body.
Thus, high consumption of blueberries may help the body slow the aging process and help your cells regenerate normally, preserving their youthful function.
4. Slow Down the Aging Process and Cognitive Decline
As the brain ages, memory, ability to learn, and general function begin to decline. Nourishing the body with foods high in antioxidants, like blueberries helps retain your brain function and may even improve memory.
Pioneers Dr. James Joseph of Tufts University and his research team evaluated the effects that certain fruits and vegetables with high antioxidant content— including spinach, strawberries, and blueberries—had on many parameters of brain aging in rodent models.
This work (published in the Journal of Neuroscience demonstrated that diets rich in extracts of certain foods were able to retard, and in some cases reverse, age-related alterations in brain and behavioral function in rats (American Botanical Council 2010)
In 2003, he found that a diet supplemented with blueberries could prevent the development of cognitive declines in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease.
The anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries may also help thought and memory by encouraging better flow of blood to the brain.
With supple arterial walls and a reduction of inflammation in blood vessels, more blood is delivered to the cerebrum, the part of your brain responsible for higher thought.
5. Prevent Disease
The antioxidants, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and tannins found in blueberries may help to prevent cancer by inhibiting the development of cancerous mechanisms and growth.
They protect cellular DNA from damage and disintegration caused by free radicals. In large numbers, the effects are a worn-out body – problems with eyesight and hearing and wearing down of your internal organs.
It has also been reported that eating blueberries and similar fruits like cranberries may improve the cognitive deterioration effects that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of aging.
Blueberries may help lower the damages of stroke.
6. Help Manage Diabetes
Blueberries are low in natural sugar, with just 15 grams of sugar per one cup serving . Its high water content creates a sensation of fullness.
Both these characteristics help balance blood sugar for diabetics without spiking , the way white sugar does.
Furthermore, anthocyanins, help with insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in the body.
7. Promote Heart Health
Eating blueberries has been linked to reducing high blood pressure. It also reduces the stiffness in the walls of arteries , allowing the blood to flow more smoothly through your body.
Inflammation and cholesterol mean that the heart needs to work harder to pump blood.
The anti-inflammatory properties found in blueberries help to reduce cholesterol levels and keep arteries supple enough to pump blood smoothly.
8. Reduce and Relieve Inflammation
Antioxidants and some vital nutrients such as Manganese, can help the body reduce inflammation. Inflammation in joints, arteries, and muscles can make life painful.
The extra pressure the body is under due to chronic inflammation makes daily tasks, such as standing, walking, and bending, more painful.
9. Help Digestion
Natural fiber in blueberries help promote healthy gut function and help in digestion and bowel movement. Nutrients found in blueberries also help keep the natural gut bacteria flourishing and healthy.
10. May be Preventive for UTIs
The same compounds in cranberries that alleviate symptoms of UTIs are also found in blueberries. These compounds are called “anti-adhesives” and they can prevent E.coli bacteria from binding to the wall of the bladder causing infection.
What are the Benefits of Eating Blueberries? Several. This super fruit, small in size, but mighty in the role it plays! Now that you know it’s true value, I suspect that you may want to incorporate these berries into your diet.
Rinne De Bont 1 & Nik van Larebeke (2004) Endogenous DNA damage in humans: a review of quantitative data. 2004 May;19(3):169-85 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15123782/
Blueberries, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1851/2
Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Women’s Health Watch (2020) Foods that fight inflammation https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
Peng C, Wang X, Chen J, Jiao R, Wang L, Li YM, Zuo Y, Liu Y, Lei L, Ma KY, Huang Y, Chen ZY. Biology of ageing and role of dietary antioxidants. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:831-841 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24804252/
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Rodriguez-Mateos A, Cifuentes-Gomez T, Tabatabaee S, Lecras C, Spencer JP. Procyanidin, anthocyanin, and chlorogenic acid contents of highbush and lowbush blueberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jun 13;60(23):5772-8.