Blueberries are in the same family as bilberries, huckleberries, and cranberries. They are all affiliated with Vaccinium ssp, the heather family.
These tiny spherical berries have a diameter between five to sixteen millimeters and can vary from purple to blue.
There are different types of blueberries, so they vary in appearance. The most popular varieties are pale-colored lowbush and bright red highbush.
Blueberries have a pleasing, sweet taste. While they’re often eaten fresh, they can be blended for juices and frozen. They are used as ingredients in a variety of bakery products, for flavoring and in jams.
Blueberry is an indigenous American species. In fact, the blueberry fruit is believed to originate from North America. Due to its taste, health, and diet benefits, it has a long history. The first settlers on the American continent discovered the numerous benefits of blueberries. Early adventurers recorded in their travel diaries that Native American Indians used wild blueberries, and early settlers also acknowledged that this berry was beneficial nutritionally and for their well-being.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES
- 1) Keeps your bones healthy
- 2) Helps maintain healthy skin
- 3) Helps control diabetes
- 4) Helps prevents cancer
- 5) Improve mental health
Blueberries contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, vitamin K, and zinc. All these elements and minerals are components of bone. Ingesting these vitamins and minerals contributes adequately to the development and maintenance of bone strength and structure.
Zinc and iron also play key roles in maintaining bone strength and joint flexibility.
Low vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of bone crack and fracture. Taking Vitamin K impacts calcium absorption positively and reduces body calcium loss.
The support system of the skin is collagen. It depends on vitamin C as a vital nutrient and helps avoid skin damage induced by pollution, sun rays, and smog. Vitamin C can also improve the ability of collagen to beautify the skin by smoothening out wrinkles.
A cup of blueberries makes available over twenty percent of the suggested daily intake of vitamin C.
Studies have shown that Type 1 diabetes patients who consume high-fiber meals have low blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes patients who eat the same diet have been able to improve their lipid levels, blood sugar levels, and insulin levels. A cup of blueberries contains approximately 3.6 grams of fiber.
A study found in BMJ from 2013 showed that certain fruit could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults.
During this study, 6.5 percent of participants developed diabetes. However, the researchers discovered that eating three meals of grapes, blueberries, apples, raisins, or pears a week reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by seven percent.
Vitamin A, vitamin C, and other phytonutrients found in blueberries act as potent antioxidants that can help guard cells from disease-related free radicals.
Research shows that antioxidants can prevent tumor growth, reduce inflammation in the body, and help prevent or slow cancer of the esophagus, mouth, lungs, endometrial, throat, pancreas, colon, and prostate.
Folate is also contained in blueberries, which helps in DNA fusion and repair. This can avert the formation of cancer cells due to DNA mutations.
Population-based studies have proven that blueberry consumption is associated with a slower decline in cognitive abilities in older women.
Studies have also shown that blueberries can improve motor coordination and short-term memory and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.
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SIDE EFFECTS OF BLUEBERRIES
Eating blueberries as part of a balanced diet as a healthy person is unlikely to cause side effects. However, if you have health problems, consult your doctor before including them in your diet.
- 1) Sensitivity to Salicylates
- 2) Blueberry Leaves and Hypoglycemia
- 3) Dental Stains
Blueberries contain large amounts of salicylates – the active ingredient in aspirin, which also occurs naturally in numerous plants. They can cause side effects in people sensitive to these salicylates. Those sensitive to salicylates can experience a rash breakout and some gastrointestinal issues, not excluding nausea, reflux, vomiting, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Blueberry juice is mainly known for being rich in salicylates. However, consuming blueberries in finite amounts can alleviate some of the discomfort and pain associated with the intake of salicylates.
For people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, consuming blueberry leaves (as a supplement) can cause an unsafe reduction in the levels of the body’s blood sugar. Always consult your doctor and monitor your blood sugar carefully before adding any supplements, especially blueberry leaves. Eating blueberry fruit is probably safe for people with diabetes, as a cup (of blueberries) has twenty-one grams of carbohydrates.
Blueberries are one of the numerous causes (in the field of food) of teeth stains due to their strong pigmentation. Whether you take them fresh, or as juice or jelly-canned, or frozen, the blueberries’ consistent blue color can permanently stain (if not addressed early) teeth and fillings.
This color effect can be addressed by sluicing water in your mouth after the consumption of blueberries. You can also drink milk to neutralize the acid in blueberries and maintain teeth strength. Eating hard cheese after consuming blueberries is also considered helpful in maintaining pearly white teeth.
DOSAGE OF BLUEBERRIES
Blueberry extracts are available in the form of tinctures, powders, capsules, and water-soluble extracts. You can buy it in most pharmacies and health food stores, and also available online. There is no standard dose for blueberry extract.
Follow the instructions on the label of the supplement, which is usually one tablespoon of the powder, one tablet (containing 200 to 400 mg of blueberry concentrate), or 7 to 9 spoonfuls of liquid blueberry concentrate per day.
USE OF BLUEBERRIES IN SUPPLEMENTS
Although it is advisable to eat fresh blueberries to ingest as many antioxidants as possible, blueberries are also available as supplements.
When choosing a supplement, ensure it comprises only natural ingredients and does not contain fillers or binders.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Can dogs eat blueberries?
A: Yes, they can eat blueberries. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage in humans and dogs. They are also full of phytochemicals and fiber. Opt for blueberries as an alternative to pet treats.
Q: How many calories are in blueberries?
A: Half a cup of blueberries contains twenty-five percent of the recommended daily dosage of vitamin C and three grams of fiber – and just 30 calories. Blueberries are also juicy, meaning they are mostly water-filled.
Q: Are blueberries good for cats?
A: Blueberries are safe for cats. Blueberries are not considered a good source of food for cats as they are for humans, but the antioxidants present in blueberries are also beneficial for cats. Some cat foods even contain blueberry powder. The water content and fiber in blueberries are also good for cats.
Q: When are blueberries in season?
A: When the season of blueberries is near, i.e., from June to August, you can purchase more than needed to freeze-store for the coming winter. If you add a little vitamin C powder to them, they will stay fresh longer. Store fresh fruit in the driest part of the refrigerator and don’t rinse it until ready for meal preparation.
Q: Are blueberries acidic?
A: Blueberries are slightly acidic. They are located at the lower end of the pH scale, making them a choice that shouldn’t be consumed on a regular tight schedule. However, blueberries are healthy and safe for consumption, but moderately.
Q: How much sugar in blueberries?
A: Raw blueberries contain 84 calories per serving of 148 g. One meal contains 21 g of carbohydrates, 0.5 g of fat, and 1.1 g of protein. The latter is 15 g of sugar and 3.6 g of fiber; the rest are complex carbohydrates. Raw blueberries contain zero saturated fat and zero cholesterol per meal. 148 g of raw blueberries contain IU of vitamin A, 14.4 mg of vitamin C,0.00 mcg of vitamin D, 0.41 mg of iron, 8.88 mg of calcium, and 114 mg of potassium.
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