Need a pick-me-up? Reach for a nutritional powerhouse: the blueberry.
Blueberries may be small, but this little fruit packs a powerful punch!
While blueberries are often regarded as a superfood; this wasn’t always the case. The once-humble blueberry’s journey from relative obscurity to popularity wasn’t until 1916 when the berry was first cultivated commercially. Soon, blueberry mania was sweeping the country, as blueberries were being sold across the states. Today, blueberries can be found almost everywhere and in everything from muffins and cereals to bath products and even pet food. Why is this? What’s the story behind our love of this fruit? More importantly, do these berries deserve their reputation as one of the world’s most powerful superfoods?
With this in mind let’s uncover some of the facts surrounding the blueberry and its nutritional content. Here’s why you’ll want to think about adding blueberries to the menu more often!
Benefits of the Blueberry: What’s the Scoop?
When it comes to blueberries, there’s a surprising amount of goodness that’s packed into one small berry! Blueberries are loaded with nutrients; including trace amounts of micronutrients like manganese as well as vitamins A, K, B-6; and a significant amount of Vitamin C which functions as an antioxidant. While it’s long been known that Vitamin C can help to strengthen the immune system, this vitamin also improves the production of collagen for healthy and smooth skin and contributes to gum health. Blueberries are also packed with dietary fiber. One cup of the berries has about 3.6 grams. Research indicates that blueberries may also provide cardiovascular benefits, raising HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering LDL. Blueberries are also related to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and may also assist in the prevention of macular degeneration as well as urinary tract infections. No wonder this berry has such a positive reputation!
Blueberries and Cognitive Function
Next, let’s look at the cognitive benefits that blueberries have to offer. Cognitive function tends to decline with age, but research indicates that it’s better preserved by eating a diet rich in plant-based foods. One recent study indicates that blueberries, or concentrated blueberry juice, could help to improve brain function in older people. When scientists researched blueberries for their antioxidant activity, looking for delayed and reversed signs of age-related cognitive decline, they concluded that blueberries might help to protect against deficits in both memory and motor function.
Blueberries and Mental Health
In addition to the range of health benefits that have been associated with blueberries over the years, there’s another area where these berries have been shown to offer a strong level of support: mental health.
Few things are more damaging than stress; especially when you’re down. This can lead to a frustrating spiral that can be difficult to break; one that drains you both mentally and physically.
During stressful situations, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisol travels to the brain; providing an emotional response. Blueberries, though, can help to counter the effects of this hormone’s impact on your mood. Interestingly, blueberries are also loaded with antioxidants known as anthocyanins which can help to boost brain function.
Finally, high consumption of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with better mental health and mitigating depression. Blueberries specifically, though, have been shown to have a measurable effect on positive mood within just two hours of eating them.
Whether or not blueberries can make an acute difference in mood, evidence shows that there are plenty of reasons to feel positively toward these berries. It’s no secret that at the very least, blueberries can lead to improved health overall; providing you with valuable nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for health and well-being.
It’s easy to see why some nutritionists believe that if you make only one change to your diet it should be the addition of blueberries. So go ahead, get some of these berries for yourself, and start looking for ways to work them into your diet. They’re great in smoothies, with yogurt, in savory dishes, or even on their own. Whether you eat them frozen, fresh, or straight off of the bush there are plenty of benefits to be gained from this small yet powerful superfood!
Do you love blueberries? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us your favorite way to enjoy them in the comments below.