Benefits of blueberries

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What are blueberries?

The blueberry plant belongs to the Ericaceae family and to the genus Vaccinium which is of the same genus as other berries such as cranberries.  They have small blue-black berries that are sweet-tasting and are well-known for their powerhouse nutrient properties.

Blueberries benefits

Blueberries are rich in antioxidant polyphenols such as anthocyanins, which have been researched for their protective properties, particularly against aging and oxidative stress.  Through their antioxidant properties, blueberries have been shown to help protect against cardiovascular disease, DNA damage and even improve exercise performance.

Anti-inflammatory

  • Daily blueberry consumption has been shown to increase natural killer cells (immune cells) and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines (proteins that are involved in cell signalling).
  • They have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the oxidative stress and inflammation that is associated with exercise and make a great post-workout snack.

Anti-aging and Antioxidant

  • Blueberries also contain another polyphenol called resveratrol, which reduces oxidative damage.  It has been demonstrated to act on cellular mediators related to UV photodamage such as nuclear factor kappa B.
  • Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C which helps maintain collagen levels in the skin, assisting the skin to look firm and toned.

Cognitive health

  • In the last ten years there has been increasing interest in the research of blueberries and their positive effect on cognitive health.  Blueberry extracts can enhance memory and improve cognition.  The active properties of blueberries cross the “blood-brain-barrier” meaning that the nutrients actually get into the brain tissue.  These polyphenol compounds have been found in measurable quantities in brain tissue – offering protection from oxidative stress.

Be aware

The Environmental Working Group has a list out of foods that are commonly known to have heavy pesticide residues – and blueberries make the list!  When you are purchasing blueberries, make sure they are organic.  In this case in particular, it will be money well spent; you don’t want to undo all of their goodness by taking in a bucket of pesticides.

Where to get it

Fresh: From farmers markets or supermarkets, making sure you are looking out for organic and where possible, also local.

Frozen: You will be able to find them in your local supermarket or Health Food Store.  Again, make sure you look out for organic, local produce and not foreign imports.  Frozen blueberries health benefits are on par with the fresh berries.

Supplement form: You can get blueberry extract, which some people like to take for convenience rather than adding blueberries to their meals.  As always, we do not recommend you start any new supplement without consulting your primary health care professional first.

How to use blueberries

  • Frozen or fresh blueberries can be added to everything from smoothies to pancakes and muffins or topped on your favourite granola and yoghurt!
  • They make a fantastic post workout snack or couple them with some nuts and seeds if you need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon.
  • Simply popping some blueberries into some plain soda water is a great way to add some fantastic taste, colour AND health benefits!
  • Supplement form: at Rejuvenated for Life we strongly believe in food as medicine and the power of real food.  Because of this, we prefer to get the ‘good stuff’ in its whole form, when possible.  Real food contains all the magic already packaged up with the synergistic nutrients required – something that no supplement can ever compete with.  Further to that – blueberries taste so YUM, so why wouldn’t you want to eat them?

Blueberries Q & A

Are blueberries good for weight loss?

Blueberries may aid weight loss through supporting many important metabolic functions in the body.  Blueberries have been shown to boost insulin sensitivity, reduce LDL cholesterol and improve leptin sensitivity – all factors that can assist an individual who is struggling to lose excess weight.

Are there specific blueberries health benefits for men?

Resveratrol and other antioxidants found in blueberries have been shown to potentially aid in controlling tumour metastasis formation seen in the progression of prostate cancer cells.

Many cases of erectile dysfunction are associated with high oxidative stress and lifestyle conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus.  Antioxidants found in blueberries have been associated with a protective role with these conditions through reducing oxidative stress.   The preventive excess oxidative stress, through a diet high in antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries therefore may be way to improve or prevent erectile dysfunction.

Are blueberries good for skin?

Blueberries the polyphenol called resveratrol, which reduces oxidative damage.  It has been demonstrated to act on cellular mediators related to UV photodamage such as nuclear factor kappa B.  Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, which helps maintain collagen levels in the skin, assisting the skin to look firm and toned.  

Blueberries recipes

Yogurt soup with blueberries, dates & nuts

Roasted rosemary brussels sprouts with blueberries

Recipes for frozen blueberries

Super good morning blueberry & spinach smoothie

Blueberry Earl Grey granita

References

McAnulty L, Nieman D, Dumke C, Shooter L, Henson D, Utter A, Milne G, McAnulty S, Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress and inflammation prior and after 2.5h of running, 2011, Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 36: 976-984

Giacalone M, Di Sacco F, Traupe I, Topini R, Forfori F, Giunta F, Antioxidant and neuroprotective properties of blueberry polyphenols: a critical review, Life Extension Magazine July 2012

Zhang Q, Radisavljevic, Siroky M B, Azadzoi K M, Dietary antioxidants improve arteriogenic erectile dysfunction, 2011, International Journal of Andrology, 34, 225-235

Matchett M, MacKinnon S, Sweeney M, Gottschall-Pass K, Hurta R, 2005, Blueberry flavonoids inhibit matrix metalloproteinase activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells, Biochem Cell Biol, 83: 637-643

Huang C, Zhang D, Li J, Tong Q, Stoner G, 2007, Differential Inhibition of UV-Induced Activation of NFkB and AP-1 by Extracts From Black Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries, Nutrition and Cancer, 58(2), 205-212

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Claire Yates

By Claire Yates

Claire Yates is a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, holding a Bachelor of Health Science, who is passionate about paleo nutrition, health and having fun! She is the author of Optimal Health The Paleo Way and is a self-confessed lover of good food and good coffee.

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