With high levels of polyphenols, blueberries are rightly called the king of antioxidants. The antioxidant content in them is perhaps the highest among fruits, way higher than even green tea and oranges. [1,2,3] They are low in calories, too, and contain just 80 calories per cup.
And while they are known to be healthy for the heart and skin, did you know they can also boost your memory? Here are five lesser-known health benefits of blueberries.
1. Improve Cognitive Health
Stress can accelerate the brain’s aging process and negatively impact brain function. Studies suggest that the antioxidants present in blueberries reach the essential areas of the brain and reduce oxidative stress, boosting intelligence and improving cognitive health.[4,5]
In another study, patients with mild cognitive impairment, who took blueberry juice daily, found a significant improvement in brain function.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Blueberries can lower elevated blood pressure, which is a common trigger for several heart conditions. Elevated blood pressure levels put extra strain on your heart and weaken it.
A study done in obese individuals at a high risk of heart disease found a four to six percent reduction in blood pressure levels after they consumed 50gm of blueberries every day for a period of eight weeks. Studies done with post-menopausal women also noted a reduction in blood pressure.[8,9]
3. Reduce The Levels Of Oxidized Cholesterol
Free radicals not only damage our cells and DNA, they also cause an oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which causes a deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Antioxidants present in blueberries reduce the levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. A study found that obese individuals who took 50gm of blueberries daily for a period of two months lowered LDL oxidation by 27 percent.
4. Cut The Risk Of Heart Attack
A recent study done with 93,600 nurses found that eating plenty of anthocyanins—the primary antioxidant in blueberries—lowered the risk of heart attacks by 32 percent.
5. Manage Diabetes
Anthocyanins in blueberries help regulate the blood glucose levels in the body. Packed with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins essential for treating prediabetes, they improve glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.[12,13,14]
Did You Know? Oregano Has More Antioxidants Than Blueberries
Chilled Spicy Blueberry Soup
Blueberry Corn Cakes
1. Prior RL, Cao G, Prior RL, Cao G. Analysis of botanicals and dietary supplements for antioxidant capacity: a review. J AOAC Int. 2000 Jul-Aug;83(4):950-6. Review. PubMed PMID: 10995120.
2. Kelly L. Wolfe, Xinmei Kang, Xiangjiu He, Mei Dong, Qingyuan Zhang, and Rui Hai Liu. Cellular Antioxidant Activity of Common Fruits. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008 56 (18), 8418-8426 DOI: 10.1021/jf801381y
3. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 16;52(12):4026-37. PubMed PMID: 15186133.
4. Willis LM, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related cognitive decline. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Jan;12(1):91-4. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831b9c6e. Review. PubMed PMID: 19057194.
5. Subash S, Essa MM, Al-Adawi S, Memon MA, Manivasagam T, Akbar M. Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regeneration Research. 2014;9(16):1557-1566. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.139483.
6. Krikorian R, Shidler Md, Nash Ta, et al. Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2010;58(7):3996-4000. doi:10.1021/jf9029332.
7. Arpita Basu, Mei Du, Misti J. Leyva, Karah Sanchez, Nancy M. Betts, Mingyuan Wu, Christopher E. Aston, and Timothy J. Lyons. Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome. J. Nutr. 2010 140: 9 1582-1587; first published online July 21, 2010. doi:10.3945/jn.110.124701
8. Johnson, Sarah A. et al.Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 115 , Issue 3 , 369 – 377
9. McAnulty LS, Collier SR, Landram MJ, Whittaker DS, Isaacs SE, Klemka JM, Cheek SL, Arms JC, McAnulty SR. Six weeks daily ingestion of whole blueberry powder increases natural killer cell counts and reduces arterial stiffness in sedentary males and females. Nutr Res. 2014 Jul;34(7):577-84. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Jul 8. PubMed PMID: 25150116.
10. Khurana S, Venkataraman K, Hollingsworth A, Piche M, Tai TC. Polyphenols: Benefits to the Cardiovascular System in Health and in Aging. Nutrients. 2013;5(10):3779-3827. doi:10.3390/nu5103779.
11. Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.122408. PubMed PMID: 23319811; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3762447.
12. Vuong T, Martineau LC, Ramassamy C, Matar C, Haddad PS. Fermented Canadian lowbush blueberry juice stimulates glucose uptake and AMP-activated protein kinase in insulin-sensitive cultured muscle cells and adipocytes. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):956-65. PubMed PMID: 18066143.
13. Abidov M, Ramazanov A, Jimenez Del Rio M, Chkhikvishvili I. Effect of Blueberin on fasting glucose, C-reactive protein and plasma aminotransferases, in female volunteers with diabetes type 2: double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study. Georgian Med News. 2006 Dec;(141):66-72. PubMed PMID: 17261891.
14. Martineau LC, Couture A, Spoor D, Benhaddou-Andaloussi A, Harris C, Meddah B, Leduc C, Burt A, Vuong T, Mai Le P, Prentki M, Bennett SA, Arnason JT, Haddad PS. Anti-diabetic properties of the Canadian lowbush blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. Phytomedicine. 2006 Nov;13(9-10):612-23. Epub 2006 Sep 18. PubMed PMID: 16979328.