Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus, or the humble ‘Blueberry’ as we know it, is an example of ‘good things come in small packages’. The size of the fruit is in no way a determiner of the myriad health benefits it brings. This purple fruit is power-packed with a host of nutrients that can help weight loss, protect the heart, and help fight cancer. Read on to find out more about this wonder berry and to find answers to the question, “Is the blueberry good for health?”
What is a blueberry?
Blueberries are purple or blue coloured berries produced by the plant Vaccinium caesariense (scientific name of the blueberry plant). Blueberries can either be the high-bush cultivated variety or the low-bush wild variety. Vaccinium boreale, Vaccinium fuscatum, Vaccinium darrowii, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium tenellum, Vaccinium formosum, Vaccinium myrtillus, etc., are some of the popular species of the blueberry plant. ‘Nila badri’ is another name for blueberry in Hindi.
The deep purple colour of the blueberry fruit is due to the presence of the pigment known as ‘anthocyanin’, which has several health benefits.
What are the ten benefits of blueberry fruit?
The presence of flavonoids (anthocyanin) in blueberries with their potent ‘antioxidant effects’ provides several benefits to the body. The classic blueberry taste is due to the presence of a range of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Some of the benefits of this wonderful berry have been listed below.
1. Blueberries have vital anti-cancer properties
The presence of high amounts of anthocyanin makes blueberries a superfood. Anthocyanins, the flavonoids present in the blueberry fruit, contribute to its antioxidant property. These antioxidants insulate the body against any damage caused by the presence of free radicals that may lead to diseases like cancer and other age-related illnesses. They also help prevent the growth of tumours, and the advancement of different forms of cancers: colon, pancreatic, mouth, endometrial, prostate, oesophageal, pharynx, etc., as shown by scientific research.
The presence of folic acid in blueberry extracts prevents any DNA related mutation that can be cancerous. It also influences DNA repair and production. Phytonutrients and vitamins like A and C, present in the blueberry, act as potent antioxidants
2. Blueberries contribute to healthy bones
Micronutrients like calcium, vitamin K, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc found in blueberries help in building bone structure. Vitamin K absorption is mandatory for maintaining healthy bones in the body. Blueberries contain adequate quantities of vitamin K, which is beneficial to bone health. Also, the zinc and iron content in these healthy berries help in the elasticity of bones
3. Blueberry benefits for skin
Vitamin C present in blueberries help in maintaining the elasticity of the skin by boosting the collagen content. Blueberries boost skin health by preventing wrinkles and improving skin beauty. 24 per cent of the daily vitamin C intake of a person is provided by consuming one cup of these healthy berries. Consume blueberry for skin improvement and maintain a healthy glow naturally, sans the harmful chemicals present in cosmetics
4. Blueberries decrease blood pressure
According to ￼research, the magnesium, potassium, and calcium present in blueberries help in lowering blood pressure. Consumption of blueberry juice on a daily basis is beneficial for individuals with cardiovascular diseases as the blood pressure is well maintained. The presence of folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and high fibre content in blueberries helps in warding off any heart ailments. Homocysteine build-up in the body is prevented by the intake of the phytonutrients along with vitamin B6 and folic acid present in blueberries
5. Blueberry benefits the stomach
The high fibre content in blueberries helps keep the stomach full, thus aiding in weight loss. Due to the presence of dietary fibre, constipation can be kept at bay by consuming these berries. Better digestion of food is another positive effect of these healthy berries. Blueberries cause a delay in food digestion by inhibiting digestive enzymes leading to feeling full for a longer time.
6. Blueberries for better brain function and memory power
The effects of oxidative stress can be lowered by the antioxidants present in blueberries. Oxidative stress can lower the functioning of the human brain and impact memory too. Calling blueberries brain food wouldn’t be an understatement as it helps boost brain function along with improving memory capacity. Research points to the fact that blueberries positively influence ageing neurons and thus help in cell signalling.
7. Blueberries for managing diabetes
The low fructose content of blueberries is anytime healthy over other fruits for a diabetic individual. Only 15gms of sugar in one cup of blueberries coupled with the high fibre content is ideal for individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins in the blueberries cause better insulin sensitivity in obese individuals, as pointed out in a ￼research study.
8. Blueberry benefits for hair
Blueberries have proanthocyanidins that help better hair growth by stimulating the hair follicles. They also contain vitamins B5, C, A, and E, which act as natural hair stimulants and decrease the hair ageing phase. This helps in controlling hair fall and getting thicker locks of hair
9. Blueberry benefits for males
High Flavonoid content in blueberries reduces the chances of erectile dysfunction in men, as per a ￼research study conducted by Oxford University. The Vitamin C and K present in blueberries also help in blood clotting.
10. Blueberry benefits for females
Are blueberries good for pregnancy? Blueberries during pregnancy can contribute high amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium to both the mother and the baby. The growing foetus can derive several benefits from the antioxidants present in the blueberries.
11. Dried Blueberry Benefits
The benefits of dry blueberry are similar to those obtained by consuming fresh blueberry, minus the water content.
How many dried blueberries per day can one consume?
One can consume one-fourth of a cup of dried blueberries in one day to prevent any heart ailments.
Nutrition in Blueberry
1 cup of blueberries nutrition facts (fresh) (148 gm)
|Type of nutrient||Quantity present|
|Dietary fibre||3.6 gm|
|Total sugars||14.74 gm|
|Folic acid||9 mg|
Besides the above-mentioned nutrients, fresh blueberries also contain other healthy nutrients like Beta carotenes, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, manganese, and phenolic compounds like kaempferol, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, etc.
How does a blueberry taste?
Blueberries are juicy by nature and are moderately sweet in taste. The ripe ones have a hint of acidity, while the unripe blueberries are sour in taste. The blueberries’ glycemic index is 53, which is reasonably low when compared to other fruits. Their high fibre and antioxidant content make them excellent superfoods for all.
Unknown facts about blueberry
- They are known as ‘star fruits’ due to the presence of the star-shaped tip of the berry.
- They have a natural bluish-purple colour. This colour is obtained from the pigment ‘anthocyanin’ present in them and is characteristic of the ‘Cyanococcus section’ of the plant kingdom.
- The Blueberry’s origin place is North America, where they were first consumed by the indigenous people.
- They have been known to decrease belly fat.
- Blueberries can be frozen in only four minutes, owing to their small size.
- They are free from any gluten.
- The word “Blueberry” in gaming stands for a person who actually belongs to your team but is not actively participating.
- Blueberries were introduced in Europe only in the year 1930.
What are the side effects of blueberry?
Despite the numerous benefits derived from blueberries, how many blueberries per day are consumed impacts the overall health of a person. The high content of salicylates in blueberry juice may be harmful to individuals allergic to the compounds. Headaches, nausea, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea are the common side effects seen in such people.
The high fibre content in blueberries may also work counterproductively if consumed in excessive quantities. It may lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, gas, and stomach ache. It is therefore important to know blueberry benefits and side effects before consuming them.
Famous quotes like “Blueberries: a handful of health”, or “The Blues that make you feel good” are owed to the goodness obtained from blueberries. There are scores of recipes which can be whipped up from the ‘Superfood’ for any meal, from breakfast to dinner. Blueberry tea, blueberry shake, blueberry waffle, blueberry smoothie, etc., are some options for a healthy breakfast and a great way to boost your mornings.
Wild blueberries or cultivated blueberries in a fresh, frozen or dried form can be used to make various recipes.
Blueberry desserts like cakes, muffins, tarts, scones, and ice creams can be relished with the characteristic blueberry flavour. Blueberry wine, blueberry mocktail, blueberry syrup, blueberry milkshake, blueberry coffee, blueberry cocktail, blueberry soda, etc., are some popular blueberry drinks easily available.
Buy blueberries and related products online
Do blueberries have seeds? Yes, there are about 50 seeds present in a single blueberry. Separating the seeds from the pulp is done by sieving them through a mesh. You can buy blueberry seeds online from various sellers.
You can buy frozen blueberries in India from the vast online stock by ordering them from the comfort of your home. The blueberries cost depends on the quality, quantity, and individual blueberry size.
Related items like blueberry essence that may be used in cooking jams, jellies, puddings, cakes, ice creams, etc., may also be bought online. Other forms of blueberry based drinks like blueberry beer are also available online. Blueberry soda is a carbonated drink that may be served at parties and birthdays. Blueberry wine varieties are also available that can amp up any function, whether formal or casual.
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Frequently Asked Questions
It is advisable to eat about one cup (about 150gm) of fresh blueberries every day. To derive the optimum benefits of dry blueberry, a quarter cup is advisable on a daily basis.
Blueberries are rich in a pigment called anthocyanin, which effectively decreases the rate of LDL (Low-Density Lipids) oxidation. They also contain high amounts of fibre which decrease the cholesterol levels in the body.
Although expensive, the blueberry is successfully cultivated in Himachal Pradesh in North India. It is also known as ‘Nila badri’ in Hindi, ‘navalpazham’ in Malayalam, and ‘pulupperi’ in Tamil.
Blueberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help fight damage done by free radicals in the body. This slows the ageing process of cells and helps fight cancer.
With pigments like anthocyanin, which is the main antioxidant, the oxidative damage done by free radicals can be warded off.
Important vitamins in blueberries, like vitamin K, are present in copious amounts, at about 36% per 150 gm.
Other nutrients important for normal bodily functions like Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, etc., are also obtained in relatively high amounts.
Helping maintain low blood pressure, a healthy heart with lowered risk for cardiovascular diseases, better memory power with improved brain functioning, delayed digestion with a longer satiety feeling, and providing high folate quantities for pregnant women are some beneficial effects of blueberries.
About 3/4th cup of blueberries is present in a 100 gm serving quantity.