In the summer, there’s nothing better than digging into a plate of fresh, juicy blueberries, and these tasty, tiny berries are loaded with nutrients.
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Nutritionist Julia Zumpano spoke about the benefits of blueberries.
Are blueberries healthy?
Absolutely. In fact, blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits for you,” says Zumpano. “Studies show they help protect against aging, cancer, and damage to your DNA.” A standard serving of 100 grams (3/4 cup) contains 65 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Here are a few reasons why blueberries are such a healthy option.
Rich in Antioxidants
Stress is bad for your body, especially oxidative stress. This type of stress occurs due to the presence of molecules called free radicals. Produced naturally through metabolism or through exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, and alcohol, free radicals don’t get along with your body. In fact, they damage cells.
Antioxidants play a key role in reducing the effects of oxidative stress. “Antioxidants create a barrier or shield around the cell, helping to protect it from damage,” explains Zumpano. It turns out that blueberries are very rich in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which are also found in chokeberry and elderberry.
According to a 2004 study, a cup of cultivated blueberries (berries grown for human consumption) contains 9,019 antioxidants. Low (or wild) blueberries contain 13,427 antioxidants per cup.
Full of vitamins and minerals
In addition to being low in calories, blueberries are rich in nutrients. They are good sources of vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as manganese.
A cup of blueberries provides the following recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C: 24%.
- Vitamin K: 36%.
- Manganese: 25%.
- Dietary fiber: 14%.
Vitamin C is known for boosting your immune system and other bodily functions, while vitamin K aids in proper blood clotting. Meanwhile, manganese can also promote blood clotting, helping to strengthen bones and muscles.
Help manage cholesterol
Blueberries are rich in soluble fiber. “Soluble fiber binds bile in our intestines and helps remove that bile,” says Zumpano. Bile is a waste product made up of several components, including cholesterol, bile acids, salts, metals, and bilirubin (a substance produced when red blood cells break down), which is why its removal is so important. “When soluble fiber binds to bile, it helps remove that bile, which is made up of cholesterol, into the body’s waste products, so it can lead to lower cholesterol levels, which therefore leads to the prevention or reverse reduction of the risk of heart disease,” she said. continues.
Potentially helps control blood sugar levels
Since blueberries are rich in fiber and contain less sugar than other fruits, they do not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Scientists suspect that for people with certain medical conditions, this beneficial effect may help regulate blood sugar levels. A 2016 review of animal and human research concluded that more human research is needed on the effects of blueberries on insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Later in 2020, a study of men living with type 2 diabetes found that daily consumption of blueberries reduced several cardio-metabolic health parameters, such as triglycerides.
Potentially lowers blood pressure
A 2019 study of people living with metabolic syndrome found that eating blueberries daily has a positive effect. Although insulin resistance did not change, people saw decreases in other areas. “Eating blueberries helps lower blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome because it helps the body produce more nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels,” Zumpano notes.
How to get the most out of blueberries
There is nothing wrong with eating blueberries every day because they are very healthy. But Zumpano says you’ll get the most benefit from fresh, raw, organic berries. Even though blueberry pancakes or muffins are very tasty, they are not so healthy.
“Antioxidants can be damaged by heat,” explains Zumpano. “You don’t kill fiber and you still have vitamins and minerals. But heat can affect antioxidant content. Therefore, raw, fresh and organic blueberries are the best option.”
If you buy non-organic blueberries, Zumpano also recommends washing them before eating. “I usually soak all my non-organic berries in lemon juice or filtered water with baking powder,” she says. “I soak them for a couple of minutes and then drain and rinse.”
She adds that the lemon juice makes them taste better. “Some berries become soft after baking soda. If it’s a coarser vegetable or something with a skin like an apple, cucumber, or carrot, I’ll most likely use baking soda. However, berries tend to retain their proportion and texture better when cleaned with filtered water with a little lemon juice.”
Blueberries are also a versatile fruit to eat anytime. You can enjoy them in cereals, oatmeal, smoothies or salads. “Organic frozen berries can be a little cheaper,” says Zumpano. “You can put them in hot oatmeal and let them thaw so that their juice releases its natural sweetness and flavor. Add them to smoothies or simply snack frozen as a refreshing snack to enjoy.”