You’ve probably heard that blueberries are supposed to be a super food and a nutritional powerhouse. Indeed, they seem to offer some great health benefits due to their antioxidant compounds, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, a main component in numerous diseases. They’ve also been touted to improve mental deterioration, and the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale, a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of various foods, lists them as having one of the highest values. Health benefits attributed to the blueberry include:
- Blood Pressure Reducer. Besides being packed with antioxidants, according to a Finish study, blueberries lowered blood pressure because they contain flavonoids, and one flavonoid, anthocyanins reduces inflammation, stops the progression of hypertension, and lowers blood pressure.
- Cancer Fighter. Anthocyanins also have the potential to fight cancer, and blueberries are loaded with them. Two studies — Neto and Seeram — found that blueberries have the ability to inhibit oral, breast, colon, and prostate cancer tumors.
- Free-Radical Inhibitor. Blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties, which gives them the potential to fight chronic ailments and battle disease-causing free radicals.
- Memory Aid. Brain neurons signal one another and when they can’t do it efficiently, memory is affected. Fortunately, blueberries are considered a memory food because they improve neuron signaling, and, according to the BBC, they not only prevent memory loss but also reverse it.
- Oxidative Stress Reducer. Oxidative stress is connected to diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, and heart disease. Blueberries were found to protect against oxidative stress during exercise, and, in addition, they were noted to help oxidative stress in the aging. Another study also reported blueberries to significantly enhance red blood cell resistance against oxidative stress.
- Vision Saver. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that consuming three or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) by 36 percent when compared to people who eat less than 1.5 servings of fruit each day. ARMD may not be the only vision benefit because another study, using rats, found blueberries also aid against cataracts.
Blueberries are available in thirty different varieties and were first cultivated in the early 20th century by a botanist named Elizabeth White who worked for United States Department of Agriculture. White went on to establish a commercial blueberry business, and although we can thank White for our ability to enjoy blueberries today, it is nature we can thank for our ability to indulge in such a tasty fruit that fights disease, improves memory, and protects vision.
Although blueberries have many good health benefits, there are some health risks associated with them:
- Allergies. Blueberries are high in salicylates, so if you have a salicylate intolerance or problems with aspirin, you may want to avoid them. In addition, some people have allergic reactions to blueberries that can result in hives, itching, or swelling.
- Pesticide residue. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in 2014, blueberries are included among the top 48 foods known for high pesticide content, and although they are listed at number 23, pesticides are known to cause health risks, such as cancer, birth defects, and harm to growing children as their bodies are still developing. Therefore, to be on the safe side buy certified organic blueberries whenever possible.