Ingredient Digest: Blueberries
It’s National Blueberry Month and there’s a reason why these tasty little berries have an entire month dedicated to them. Blueberries contain high levels of phytonutrients, such as anthocyanins, the colorful antioxidant that gives blueberries their beautiful purple/blue hue and protective health benefits. Blueberries also boast an excellent nutritional profile — low in fat, carbohydrates and calories, but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, K and manganese. Below you’ll find a summary of the incredible health benefits of blueberries, along with some of our favorite blueberry recipes to help you get your daily fill.
Brain Health- Studies show that the abundance of the antioxdiants called flavonoids in blueberries may promote brain health, reverse memory loss and aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Heart Health- Research suggests that the phytonutrients in blueberries are extremely anti-inflammatory, helping to protect against cardiovascular disease and promote heart health. In women, studies found that three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may decrease risk of heart attack by as much as 33%.
Blood Sugar Regulation- Blueberries rank fairly low in terms of their glycemic index, at around 40-53, which means they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar. On the contrary, recent research shows that blueberries lower baseline blood sugar levels in those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Cancer Fighting- Studies suggest that the antioxidants in foods, such as blueberries, help protect tissues, cells and DNA against free radicals in the body. Rutgers University researchers also found that blueberries contain pterostilbene, a compound that has colon cancer-fighting properties. Although all blueberries boast health benefits, wild blueberries are the most effective for fighting cancer.
Gut Health- Blueberries promote better gastrointestinal and digestive health by providing beneficial bacteria to the gut, such as probiotics.
Defense Against Urinary Tract Infections- It’s not just cranberries that protect against UTIs. Research at Rutgers University shows that blueberries contain compounds that prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, thus warding off infection.
Skin- These important antioxidants and phytochemicals in blueberries also shield the skin against harmful free radicals that can damage the collagen that keeps your skin firm. Blueberries are also high in vitamin C, a crucial component for collagen production, and in Vitamin A, which is used in a variety of acne-related skin treatments.
Experts suggest eating two cups of blueberries a day for maximum benefits. To get the most nutrients out of your blueberries buy organic for higher concentrations of antioxidants and eat them raw! You can sprinkle them on top of your oatmeal, eat them in smoothie or a fruit cup. Here are a few recipes to help you get creative with your blueberries: