Health Benefits of Blueberries

blueberriesBlueberries are not just the delicious fruits that top your favorite cheesecake. They are also a rich source of nutrients.

Blueberries as a rich antioxidant source

Blueberries contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and E and phytonutrients called anthocyanidins.

Antioxidants fight free radicals which damage the cells and the chronic diseases brought about by the aging process such as cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. One cup of blueberries contains 14 mg or vitamin C and 8 mg of Vitamin E.

According to the data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center in Boston, blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity.

The researchers used a test called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The results showed that a single serving of blueberries provides more antioxidant activity than plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Anthocyanidins which are found in the blue-red pigments in blueberries improve the integrity of the veins’ support structures and the entire vascular system. Anthocyanidins have also been found to improve the effects of vitamin C and capillary integrity. They also stabilize the collagen matrix.

Heart-protective benefits

Blueberries have been found to contain 38% more antioxidant anthocyanidins that red wine. Thus it is more cardio-protective.

Visual benefits

Foods rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E, and cartenoids help prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration or ARMD.

In a study involving 110,000 participants, researchers evaluated the effect of the subjects’ intake of fruits, vegetables, antioxidants and cartenoids on developing early ARMD. Experts recommend three servings of antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries a day.

Brain benefits

Lab researches involving animals found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress, and possibly reduce the effects of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Blueberries were also found to significantly increase learning capacity and improve motor skills of aging animals, even making them mentally equivalent to younger animals.

Gastrointestinal benefits

Blueberries also contain another antioxidant compound called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid blocks metabolic pathways that may lead to cancer.

In a study involving 1,200 elderly people, it has been found that those who ate other berries containing ellagic acid were three times less likely to develop cancer than those who did not.

Blueberries are also high in pectin, a soluble fiber that has been found to lower cholesterol and prevent bile acid from being transformed into a potentially cancer-causing form.

Protection against ovarian cancer

Kaempfrenol is a flavenoid found in blueberries. In a study involving 66,940 women, results showed that women with Kaempfrenol-rich diets had 40% reduced risks of developing ovarian cancer than women with low kaempfrenol intake.

Healthier elimination

Blueberries help relieve diarrhea and constipation. Apart from possessing soluble and insoluble fiber, blueberries also contain tannins which serve as astringents in the digest system to decrease inflammation.