Blueberries are the second most popular berries in the U.S., after strawberries.
Blue berries belong to Ericaceae family. Other fruits belonging to this family are bilberries and cranberries. There are three groups of blueberries, highbush blueberries, lowbush blueberries and rabbiteye blueberries.
Blue berries are native to North America. The highbush variety is exclusively grown in North America. Other varieties can be found in Mediterranean, Europe and Asia. Half of the world’s blueberries are supplied by the U.S. Michigan, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine and North Carolina, these are the states where they are cultivated abundantly. The lowbush variety is mainly grown in the state of Maine.
Blueberry cultivation was common among the Native American tribes, thanks to them and the European colonist who had brought this berry cultivation trend to Europe. Currently it is also being cultivated in South America, in countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. It is also grown in South America, Australia and New Zealand.
An average U.S. adult consumes about 22 ounces of blueberries every year.
What makes blueberries so popular? Is it because of their great taste? There are powerful anti-oxidants packed in them that can save you from cancer and many other diseases. In fact they are counted among one of those foods that contains the highest amount of anti-oxidants. And yes of course great taste is an added advantage.
Some recent studies suggest that “blueberry is one of the most vital fruit for those who want to maintain their health at the highest level.”
Blueberries are abundant in phytonutrients such as hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroxycinnamic acid, flavanols, resveratrol, pterostilene and anthocyanines. These phytonutrients serve the function of both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Other essential nutrients found in them are vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, selenium and fiber. A cup of blueberries provide you with 84 calories.
Some of their health benefits are:
Boost Your Immune system
The combined power of vitamin C and anthocyanin provides your body with the power to fight against bacterial and viral infections, by boosting your immune system.
Neutralize Free Radicals
The powerful phtytonutrient called anthocyanin is responsible for giving the blueberries their dark blue color. Anthocyanin is an effective cancer killer as it can help neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. It also protects you against other age related diseases.
Blueberries are considered among the “best brain foods”. They are helpful in reducing the incidences of age-related memory loss, protect the brain from oxidative stress and increase the functionality of the neurons. They also save you from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Consuming at least 2 ½ cups of blueberries on regular basis can improve brain functions and memory.
There are some nutrients found in blueberries that have a positive effect on the vision. The high contents of vitamin A maintain and enhance our eyesight.
Blueberries have the natural ability to lower the cholesterol levels. Blueberries contain some compounds that are more effective than prescription drugs for lowering bad cholesterol. Good news is that unlike prescription drugs, blueberries do not have any side effects.
Improve Heart Health
The fiber contents and powerful antioxidants found in blueberries work as a natural food supplement for the heart and protect it from many diseases. As mentioned earlier it lowers bad cholesterol which ultimately results in improved heart health.
Effective for Urinary Tract Infections
Not only blueberries prevent urinary tract infections but also cure them. A study conducted at Rutgers Blueberry Cranberry Research Center in Chatsworth, New Jersey, revealed that there are some compounds present in blueberries which are similar to cranberries. These compounds are very effective for treating and preventing UTI.
The compounds such as Ellagic acid and pterostilbene found in blueberries provide them with powers to fight against cancer. A research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry revealed that the phenolic compounds present in blueberries can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.
The high contents of dietary fibers found in blueberries effectively cure chronic constipation. 1 cup fulfils 14% of your daily fiber requirement. On the other hand nutrients like fructose, sodium, copper and vitamins improve the functioning of the digestive system.
Reduce Belly Fat
Good news for people who are trying to get rid of belly fat, researches conducted at the Michigan University reveal that a regular intake of blueberries in daily diet may result in belly fat reduction. A regular consumption for 3 months can bring fruitful results.
Reduce Aging Process
For those who want to stay young for long time, increase your intake of blueberries. Studies reveal that the anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants present in blueberries, build a protective layer around the brain that saves it from deterioration and enables it to fight the signs of aging.
Don’t use drug to fix your bad mood and depression. Blue berries contain some compounds that have the ability to put you in a good mood and cure depression, without any medications and side effects.
How to choose blueberries?
Always choose organic blueberries that are deeper in color because deeper the color, the more amount of antioxidants it will contain. They rank low on the GI, so people with diabetes can also consume them without any fear. In fact, they are good for regulating blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes.
It is also suggested to consume them raw in order to reap maximum benefits. You can even freeze blueberries; it won’t do any harm to the powerful antioxidants present in them.