Blueberry – Benefits, Nutrition, and Side Effects
All you need to know about blueberries. Numerous proven health benefits of blueberries and let's see what makes them so unique.
Behold the king of the berries, deliciously sweet and packed with an acidic punch, a berry to take away your blues. Yes! You’ve guessed it right. We’re talking about blueberries. There is a long list of blueberry benefits. After all, people consider it a wonder food. But, before we jump into the proven health benefits of blueberries, let’s see what makes them so unique.
Proper nutrition promotes overall health. Fruits contribute majorly by providing optimum nutrition. Nutrition plays a vital role during different life stages, like pregnancy, recovery from illness, pandemic, and other transitional phases. In addition, fruits often help maintain healthy body weight. It also reduces the risk of chronic disease leading to general well-being. Blueberries are one such fruit packed with nutrition.
What is a Blueberry?
It’s a delicious, vibrant little berry from the heath family, Ericaceae.
Blueberry is the common name for the flowering plants in the genus Vaccinium. We will all agree that the experience of biting down on a blueberry and enjoying a burst of juice in our mouth as the berry pops is fantastic.
History of Blueberry Day
Blueberries are North American perennial flowering plants. The berry’s colour ranges from blue to purple. Blueberries as we know them today are very new. They were initially cultivated in the 1900s. The wild type could not be grown or harvested on farms, so people had to pick them up in the wild to enjoy their exquisite taste. We’ve been eating them in the wild for about 13,000 years. Fruit’s flexibility and medical properties were recognised by Native Americans, who utilized it as an ingredient in remedies and as a flavouring factor in cuisine.
It is possible to trace the history of the blueberry back to Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville. They developed blueberries on their land after learning how to grow them. We may now enjoy blueberries as a delightful treat and profit from their health advantages because of their efforts. During this season, we celebrate Blueberry Day and Blueberry Month with its different varieties.
Types of Blueberries
There are majorly four types of blueberries:
Vaccinium corymbosum is the scientific name for this plant and is a very common blueberry we can find. As the name implies, this grows to a bushy height of around six feet. Although it is commonly referred to as a shrub, consider this plant to be more of a tree. It thrives in USDA zones four through seven.
Vaccinium angustifolium is the scientific name for this plant. These tiny bushes thrive in a wide range of hardiness zones. This cold weather blueberry grows well in zones three through seven.
The half-high blueberry is a hybrid variety that combines the greatest attributes of lowbush and highbush blueberries. It does grow to the size of a shrub or bush.
Vaccinium virgatum is the scientific name for this plant. This cultivar thrives in the southeastern United States. It is a pest-resistant type that adapts well and yields a lot of fruit. Plant them with two or more types to ensure pollination. It grows well in USDA zones 7–9.
Blueberries: Nutritional Facts
Half a cup (approx. 80grams) serving of blueberries contains:
- Calories: 42
- Protein: 1 gram
- Sugar: 7 grams
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 11 grams
- Fibre: 2 grams
These berries score 53 on the glycemic index (GI). It measures how quickly certain foods can raise blood sugar levels. But that’s not the end of it. There is so much more to the blueberry fruit that adds up to the resulting health benefits of blueberry.
Blueberries contain dietary fibre. And as we know, fibre helps your digestive system to function smoothly. Apart from this, the blueberry fruit is also an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals, namely:
It is also known as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C in blueberry fruit plays a vital role in promoting wound healing. It also benefits the body in controlling infections. In addition, it is a powerful antioxidant. It is needed to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissues of the body.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the growth of all bodily tissues and organs. These organs include the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin and hair. In addition, it contributes to the production of sebum, which helps benefit the levels of moisture in the skin and hair.
Vitamin K or phylloquinone (K1) helps make various proteins needed for blood clotting and bone building. One of them is called prothrombin. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein that directly benefits the blood clotting process in the body. Osteocalcin is another protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue.
Manganese is involved in various metabolisms in the human body, including amino acids, cholesterol, carbohydrate, and glucose. In addition, it helps in bone formation, blood clotting and hemostasis. Blueberry benefits the body by providing both manganese and vitamin K simultaneously.
Antioxidants are genuinely the magic nutrient in the blueberry. They promote numerous benefits like anti-ageing, enhancing vision, strengthening heart muscles etc. AMD or age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of permanent vision loss in adults over 60. Antioxidants from the blueberry fruit can help the elderly by benefiting their eyes and skin the most.
Some other nutrients in the blueberry fruit include iron, phosphorus, trace amounts of calcium and zinc.
10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberry
1. It reduces the risks of heart disease.
Blueberries can lower LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is a bad form of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and clog them. Coronary artery disease is a serious heart condition. As per a study, having one cup of blueberries daily reduces the risk of heart diseases by up to 15%.
Blueberry fruit has powerful antioxidants (anthocyanin), which drastically reduces the bad cholesterol level in the human body. In addition, it enhances the smooth blood flow in the arteries. Blueberries have about 25 different anthocyanins, making them the king of berries.
Anthocyanin is also responsible for giving blueberry its vibrant colour. It also removes the free radicals from the blood and protects the body from various diseases.
2. It strengthens metabolism.
Nutrition is an essential aspect of maintaining healthy metabolism in the body. It is true to say that blueberries are a nutrition-rich fruit. The human body continues to have various chemical reactions to ensure smooth functioning. Manganese and potassium in the blueberry fruit benefit the body’s multiple metabolisms.
If you have a low potassium level in your body, you might make less insulin than an average healthy individual. As a result, it could lead to high blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, that can also increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Although, as we know, diabetes is a life-altering condition, this superfood can help you prevent it. Blueberries are rich in potassium and other nutrients that may help you prevent diabetes. On the other hand, manganese helps utilize various other vitamins like thiamine. It also benefits the body by improving liver functions.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a significant medical condition worldwide. Blueberries have anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties that help treat NAFLD. Thus, it is safe to say that blueberries play an essential role in strengthening the body’s metabolism.
3. Anti-ageing properties
Eating blueberries has an anti-ageing effect on the body. It is due to the presence of pterostilbene and anthocyanin. Half a cup of these delicious berries contains 42 calories. It is 24% of the daily vitamin C that our body needs. That is the key to promoting collagen production to maintain the firmness and elasticity of the skin. It keeps the skin younger looking and fresh while repairing damaged cells faster.
So, snack on a bowl of fresh blueberries and say goodbye to the wrinkles and lines.
Studies show that blueberries can modulate signaling pathways involved in inflammation and cell survival. In addition, it enhances neuroplasticity and neuroprotective properties. Therefore, blueberries also help fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
4. It may help fight Cancer.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals in the blueberry fruit help remove the free radicals. However, these radicals may be responsible for damaging your DNA profile. If not dealt with, these free radicals can cause severe damage to your DNA and result in cancerous conditions.
The American Institute for Cancer Research study shows that blueberries contain anti-cancer elements. Thus, a regular intake of blueberries will benefit the body to fight cancerous cells. The study also suggests that vitamin C in blueberries may reduce the risk of colon cancer and lung cancer in people who smoke. In addition, it may also reduce the risk of mouth and stomach cancers.
5. Blueberries improve memory and brain function.
Blueberries contain Flavonoids. These Flavonoids are potent antioxidants. A new study based on research published in July 2021 shows that flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries decrease the risk of cognitive problems by 20%. This study link is available in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Flavones and anthocyanins in the blueberry fruit are the most potent antioxidants. The anthocyanins in blueberries also protect and strengthen connections between neurons, making communication easier. Thus, improving brain function and memory.
6. Blueberries improve insulin sensitivity.
Flavonoids, a group of natural substances, may help improve glucose metabolism in people with diabetes. Flavonoids may also help improve insulin sensitivity in people who are obese and have insulin resistance. Therefore blueberry aids in reducing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Blueberry also positively affects high-fat diet(HFD) induced obesity. According to research, Polyphenol Extract (PPE) in blueberries inhibits body weight gain and returns lipid metabolism to normal. Thus blueberries are famous as a superfood. They are both healthy and delicious.
7. Blueberries help fight depression.
One of the many health benefits of blueberry is that it acts as a positive mood booster. So, blueberries can take away your Monday blues. Pretty impressive, right?
Studies show that blueberries, rich in flavonoids, are responsible for maintaining the smooth functioning of neural pathways. It also has a positive effect on neuroplasticity. Overall, blueberries work wonders not only for the body but also for the mind. That is how it helps combat depression.
So the next time you’re feeling low, snack on some raw blueberries to elevate your mood. Vibrant food, vibrant mood!
8. Blueberries help in strengthening bones.
Blueberry fruit contains ample nutrients like manganese, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. These nutrients increase the nutritional value of blueberries.
Iron and zinc play essential roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints. At the same time, calcium helps increase bone density. As a result, it reduces the chances of osteoporosis, especially in women after the age of 40.
Weak bones are prone to fracturing easily, taking longer to heal. Nutrition-rich blueberries enhance bone strength and fasten the healing time with the help of vitamin K.
9. Blueberries may protect from urinary tract infections.
Bacteria often find their way into the body via humid urinary tract conditions. Studies reveal that blueberry helps kill the bacteria on the urinary tract lining.
Blueberry fruit contains elements that stop bacteria from multiplying and staying on the bladder wall. It especially fights bacteria like E Coli, one of the main instigators of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
10. Blueberries help boost immunity and strengthen muscles.
Blueberries help in increasing muscle growth and repairing them. While working out is a healthy habit, sore muscles are enough to take a break. Unfortunately, that pause can soon turn into a pattern of skipping workouts. Don’t we all know it?
The muscle fibre requires some healing time and ample nutrition to become stronger. And, one of the benefits of having blueberries is their ability to repair muscle tissues at a faster rate.
Vitamins and minerals in the blueberry fruit kick up the nutrition in the body and protect the body from various diseases. In addition, flavonoids in blueberries repair the cell damage and strengthen the body’s immune response.
Adding Blueberries to Your Daily Meals
Here are some suggestions on how to add blueberries to your daily meals.
- One of the most delicious ways to do it is by making a fruit salad with blueberry and fresh yoghurt.
- You can add blueberries to a pancake. Blueberries in pancakes are a treat for the tummy.
- You can bake some delicious blueberry muffins.
- Level up from a basic apple pie to a rich blueberry pie.
- You can blend fresh smoothies and milkshakes using blueberries.
- Eat blueberries as a snack during work breaks. Don’t forget to wash the blueberries before eating them raw.
- You can also make fresh blueberry juice.
- Dried blueberries are the perfect garnish for homemade ice creams and desserts. You can try doing that.
The best ways and times to eat blueberries
Are you craving a blueberry smoothie at night? Or are you wondering if you can have blueberry pancakes early in the morning? Well, you sure can. There is no specific time for eating blueberries. So, if you have a healthy snack recipe in mind, you can consume blueberries anytime.
Adding blueberries to your smoothie is probably the healthiest way to enjoy blueberries. You can blend a fulfilling smoothie with yoghurt and healthy fat like chia seeds.
Have a get-together? Make some blueberry ice cubes. Add 2-3 blueberries into each cube and fill the tray with water. Freeze them and enjoy them with almost any drink.
You can start your morning with a fruit salad or end your day with a blueberry dessert. In addition, you can also eat blueberries before bed. As we know, blueberries are antioxidant-rich; eating them before bed can help reduce your overall stress and give you a better sleep.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Blueberries, and Why?
Although blueberries are usually a healthy food choice, we must keep a few things in mind while eating them. Everybody is different. When the body’s immune system reacts to a specific protein, showing hives, swelling, and other symptoms, it means that the body is allergic to that particular food or nutrient. Food allergies are common. Apart from allergies, overdose can cause some severe issues too. After all, excess of anything can be harmful.
Probable side effects of blueberry
1. Vitamin K Overdose
Vitamin K (K1) toxicity is rare, as there are various viewpoints on the upper consumption limits. However, excess menaquinones (Vitamin K2) can cause jaundice in newborn babies. In addition, it can lead to hemolytic anemia. Jaundice in newborns can cause a type of brain damage. While anaemia results due to the rupture of red blood cells in the blood.
2. Blueberry and Surgery
You should stop eating blueberries at least two weeks before surgery. It is because blueberries affect blood sugar levels. Thus, they can imbalance the sugar level during the surgery. In addition, eating blueberries may cause a delay in healing surgical wounds. Again, it is due to the blood-thinning properties of blueberries.
3. Salicylate intolerance or sensitivity
Salicylate intolerance or sensitivity is an allergy. As the name suggests, it is towards salicylic acid. Itching, trouble breathing, skin rashes, and headaches are a few symptoms. So, if you experience any discomfort after eating blueberries, immediately consult a doctor. Anaphylaxis occurs in severe cases of salicylate allergy. It is an absolute emergency and needs immediate medical care.
4. Excess fibre intake
Fibre is suitable for your cholesterol, muscle fitness, blood sugar levels and bowel movement. However, an excess can result in constipation and bloating. In addition, eating more than 70g fiber per day can cause painful cramps.
People having constipation and gas-related issues should drink lots of water and eat a bland diet. It will bring them some relief from abdominal pain and discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the benefits of blueberries?
A. Blueberries contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide notable health benefits. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that improve heart health, brain function, muscle strength, and bone density. In addition, it also helps boost immunity.
Q. How many calories are there in one cup of fresh blueberries?
A. Fresh blueberries contain only 84 calories and 15 g of carbs are found in a whole cup. This makes them a good provider of numerous crucial elements calorie for calorie. In fact, they also contain 85% water.
Q. What happens if you eat blueberries every day?
A. A bowl of blueberries can enhance immunity and lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, according to a few studies. Additionally, eating a little number of berries every day can assist to boost metabolism and fend off deficiencies and metabolic syndrome of any kind.
Q. Are blueberries healthy at night?
A. Yes. It is beneficial. For example, eating blueberries before bed can relieve stress and improve mood. In addition, their antioxidants help improve your circulation system, increasing blood flow to your heart and strengthening blood vessels.
Q. Are frozen blueberries good for you?
A. Yes, due to its high fibre content, a cup of frozen blueberries can help keep your digestive system regular, prevent constipation, and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Q. How many carbs are in 100g of blueberries?
A. 100 grams of fresh blueberries contains 9.1g or 4% carbs. It is based on RI for an average adult.
Q. Are blueberries high in sugar?
A. No, sugar content in blueberries is average at 15 g per cup (148 grams). They do not, however, negatively affect blood sugar levels, which may be related to their high bioactive chemical concentration.
Q. How many blueberries should you eat in a day?
A. There is no defined limit, though. However, research says that 150gm blueberry per day can benefit your health. Remember, everything is good only when you have it in moderation.
Q. What happens if you eat too many blueberries?
A. Too much of anything is harmful. For example, suppose you eat too many blueberries. In that case, it might result in an overdose of vitamin K and fibre, leading to various diseases.
Q. What is better for you, strawberries or blueberries?
A. Both blueberries and strawberries belong to the same family. Hence, both are good for you. However, blueberries bring a few extra advantages with them. In comparison to strawberries, blueberries are higher in minerals, have a lower GI, more saturated fats, five times more Vitamin C, and three times more Folate. The amount of vitamins, carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, copper, and zinc in blueberries is higher. Additionally, it costs less than strawberries.
Q. What is the healthiest berry in the world?
A. Blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cranberries and raspberries are all healthy. They have their unique properties and are all beneficial for health.
Q. Are blueberries good for weight loss?
A. Yes, it is a superfood. Blueberries may have an impact on genes that control the burning and storage of fat, which could help lower cholesterol and reduce belly obesity. Blueberries may help reduce triglycerides and elevate blood sugar when accompanied by a low-fat diet, both of which are advantages of an all-encompassing weight loss strategy.
Q. Is it bad to eat 150gm of blueberries?
A. No. 150 gm blueberries per day are beneficial for your heart health. So, if you are not allergic to them, you can eat 150 gm of blueberries per day.