Updated: Nov 13, 2019
This is a spec blog post for Your Super.
When I first was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, something odd began to happen. Everyone started talking to me about blueberries. When I'd mention my diagnosis, many seemed to all have a solution readily available in the form of small, round, delightful blue berries.
From my functional medicine doctor to health coach to casual acquaintances, they all were in agreement: "Have you tried eating wild blueberries?" (I also learned that not all blueberries are created equal.)
Blueberries are a superfood my healing regimen and anti-inflammatory diet needed to contain. When I took to the Internet to determine the accuracy of their claim, I was surprised to find a bizarre and overwhelming amount of research and scientific evidence to support their claims that blueberries are in fact powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the fight against numerous health conditions and diseases from cancer to Lyme Disease to diabetes to heart health.
Today, I'll set out to share the health benefits you might not know about these deeply nutrient packed, antioxidant rich, simple yet mighty superfood: blueberries.
1. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants.
The deep purple to blue hue blueberries carry comes with a health benefit: blueberries are thought to have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all popular fruits and vegetables. This is due to the powerful antioxidant capacity of anthocyanin, a type of flavonoid, which gives blueberries their infamous color. Flavonoids are a class of compounds with potent antioxidant effects. Anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.
2.Blueberries have a low glycemic index.
Even though they're sweet, eating blueberries won't cause a spike in blood sugar.
The glycemic load of blueberries is considered low, which makes blueberries an excellent choice for those with diabetes and auto immune conditions. The glycemic index of blueberries is 53, which is a low GI.
For those with auto immune conditions or fighting chronic disease, sugar can act as immune suppressive, but the goal of any immune supportive diet, of course, is to boost the immune system. Eating foods, like blueberries, that are low on the glycemic index can aid in healing. Not to mention a host of diseases, like the pesky spirochete bacteria behind Lyme Disease or any cancer will, quite literally, feed and thrive on sugar.
Blueberries can easily be incorporated to a low sugar, anti-inflammatory diet.
3. Blueberries improve memory, support brain health, and increase cognitive function.
There are numerous health benefits associated with blueberries and cognitive function.
In one study, it was shown that rats who ate blueberries for two months showed improvements in working memory and did better than their peers at remembering how to navigate a water maze.
In another, children who ate blueberries showed better attention by consuming flavonoid-rich blueberries. The children who consumed the flavonoid-rich blueberry drink had 9% quicker reaction times on the test without any sacrifice of accuracy. In particular, the effect was more noticeable as the tests got harder.
Studies even suggest that berries may help slow age-related cognitive decline.
4. Blueberries may help in the fight against inflammation in the body due to chronic disease.
Blueberries with plentiful anthocyanin can increase anti-inflammatory cytokines and reduces oxidative stress. In healing from chronic disease, keeping inflammation in the body low is critical.
The inflammation caused by oxidative stress is the cause of many chronic diseases and several studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of blueberries against oxidative stress.
Wild blueberry consumption has been researched to have an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the body, as well. (Keep on reading to the end to understand the added health pack of wild blueberries).
5. Blueberries may help with weight loss.
For one, blueberries are high in nutrients and low in calories. One cup of blueberries, on average, comes in at just 85 calories. That's a lot of nutrients and not a lot of calories.
But the benefits don't stop there. One study showed that rats who ate a diet rich in blueberries lost abdominal fat. They also experienced other health benefits like lowered cholesterol and improved glucose even if their diet wasn't otherwise heart-healthy.
Blueberries are also packed with fiber and can be a great snacking choice to manage hunger levels with ease.
6. Blueberries may help prevent heart disease.
Maybe the saying should be, a "cup of blueberries a day keeps the doctor away."
In short, a new study released earlier this year found that eating a cup of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease by up to 15 percent. The research team suggested blueberries (and their sister berries like black and raspberries) should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially with at risk groups.
In one study, it was found that eating a cup of blueberries a day decreases risk of heart disease by up to 15%, even among those already at risk, finds a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
7. Blueberries may have anti-diabetic effects.
Studies have shown that incorporating blueberries into the diet may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These studies were supported by evidence of improvement in insulin resistance after obese and insulin resistant rodents or humans consumed blueberries.
8. Wild blueberries may be extra super in the fight against disease.
Due to the way wild blueberries are cultivated, it's estimated that wild blueberries, in particular, have two times the amount of anthocyanin packed into their even smaller sized berries. (Note: those giant plump blueberries you find in the store aren't actually what blueberries look like in the wild. The slightly smaller, more tart wild counterparts are packed with anthocyanin!).
Wild blueberries may have especially protective benefits for diabetes and heart disease and chronic inflammation. There is even an official Wild Blueberry organization, which has dubbed the wild-grown blueberry the "blueberriest blueberry" and the "better blueberry."
Because of the way wild blueberries are grown, they can spoil more easily, which means wild blueberries are often sold frozen. This can make them an easy addition to your morning smoothie and check the frozen food aisle of your favorite health food store to find them.
For brain boosting focus, try adding wild blueberries to your morning smoothie with our Power Matcha Mix or add wild blueberries to our Super Green Mix to boost your immune system. They can make a great addition to your Golden Milk Oatmeal, as well, with our new Mellow Yellow Mix.
In short, the health benefits of blueberries abound. Blueberries may be small, but they sure pack a lot of heart, brain, and immune support into one small berry.
They're also sweet, delicious, and mix well with just about anything. Try blueberries in the morning with your smoothie, at lunch on your spinach salad, or when you need a sweet but nutritious midday snack.