100g blueberries contain just 57 calories, which shows you instantly that these are a really healthy option. It also contains practically no fat (zero saturated fat, zero monounsaturated fat and just 0.1g of polyunsaturated fat; the healthier fat), no cholesterol and just 1mg sodium. It comprises 10% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of dietary fiber and contains 10g sugar.
100g blueberries are also rich in essential minerals and vitamins to help you to remain healthy; copper, iron, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K.
- 100g of blueberries contains 17% of your RDA of manganese. Manganese supports the body to strengthen bones and transform proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy. Blood sugar control is very significant, and manganese plays a role in supporting enzymes to function correctly during the gluconeogenesis process, where glucose is produced from non-carbohydrate sources (i.e. proteins and fat). Glucose is essential for providing energy to the cells and organs of the body.
- Manganese is also a component of the enzyme prolidase, which is essential for collagen production. Collagen is a fundamental component of the skin used to keep it firm and supple, but also very essential in wound healing processes. Moreover, manganese may be useful as a treatment for osteoporosis and signs of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
- 100g of blueberries contains 3% of your RDA of copper. This may not sound like a lot, but it is a vital mineral for a number of bodily functions. Copper combines with certain proteins to produce enzymes which are catalysts for various processes, including biochemical reactions, transforming melanin for skin pigmentation, maintaining and repairing connective tissues and so forth. This is especially important for maintaining the heart and arteries. Without an adequate amount of copper (and research shows that the UK population isn’t usually getting enough) heart disease is a real possibility.
- 100g of blueberries contains 2% of your RDA of iron, another very important mineral as it is an essential component of hemoglobin. This is a protein within red blood cells which enables them to transfer oxygen throughout the body. This is important for assuring that organs including the brain and heart get sufficient oxygen to function efficiently. In pregnancy, having insufficient iron in the body can put the mother at risk for premature delivery, or for delivering a baby which is smaller than normal.
- 100g of blueberries contains 16% of your RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in the body as it helps to keep cells healthy, maintains connective tissues that support organs and other structures, and it is very important in wound healing. 16% for 100g is not particularly high compared to some other fruits and vegetables, but the body does not produce vitamin C on its own, and so consuming blueberries to get your RDA is a really good idea. It’s a little more interesting than that standard glass of orange juice!
- 100g of blueberries contains 24% of your RDA of vitamin K. This is a vitamin that is less well known (it is actually known as the ‘forgotten vitamin’) but has a very important role in the body nonetheless. It is required for protein modification which increases the functional diversity of proteins, as well as for ensuring that blood clots. Without this process, even a very small cut could lead to a significant amount of blood loss. Thirdly, there is some evidence emerging that vitamin K is necessary for maintaining strong bones, and evidence suggests it is also very good for people who are at risk of heart disease. Unusually for a vitamin, the body does create its own vitamin K, in the bacteria of the intestines. Any vitamin K which is not used is further collected in the liver for future use. This means that it is not essential in your diet every single day, unlike vitamin A and vitamin C.
Benefits of Blueberries
Besides the overall health benefits found in the nutrients of blueberries, there is an indication that they are great for specific medical needs:
Lower blood pressure
A recent study looked at how consuming freeze-dried blueberries on a daily basis can help to lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women.
The researchers followed 48 women over 8 weeks; their blood pressure was measured at the beginning, at 4 weeks and at the end of the trial. A control group received a placebo and the study was conducted on a double-blind basis.
The results showed that there was no improvement for the women who received the placebo powder, but those who received the blueberry powder did experience lower blood pressure. This leads to the conclusion that regular consumption of blueberries can help to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Lower risk of developing diabetes
This study looked at a huge amount of data relating to which foods carried a higher risk of causing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers waded through information on nearly 190,000 people and came to the conclusion that consuming 3 portions of blueberries, grapes and apples each week was linked to a far lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than many other foods, with blueberries having the lowest risk.
Help prevent heart disease
Blueberries are loaded with an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which has long been thought advantageous in maintaining heart health.
A study collated data from a long-term study of more than 93,000 women, aged between 25 and 42 years old, over an 18 year period. Their lifestyles and diets were examined and then cross-referenced with incidents of heart attacks.
The results suggested that consumption of anthocyanin-rich blueberries and strawberries, at least 3 times a week, helped to lower the risk of experiencing a heart attack.
Help fight against cancer
Natural killer cells are an important part of the immune system and play a pivotal role in the fight against cancer. In 2014, research was published that examined the effect blueberry consumption might have on these cells.
25 men and women participated in the trial; half of the group were given blueberry powder to consume daily that was equivalent to 250g of berries, the other half were given a placebo.
Tests were performed before the trial began and then again after 6 weeks. The group that took the blueberry powder felt an increase in the number of natural killer cells, whereas the placebo group did not.
The researchers concluded that regular consumption of blueberries could help increase the number of natural killer cells, which in turn can help in the fight against cancer.
Improve age-related cognitive decline
A study looked at how anthocyanin-rich foods affected cognitive function on a long-term basis. Beginning in 1980, a questionnaire was given to more than 16,000 participants every 4 years, with the aim of recording their dietary habits.
Between 1995 and 2001, the researchers began examining the cognitive functions of participants who were 70 years of age or older and continued with follow-up assessments every 2 years.
The results found that the participants who consumed the highest levels of blueberries and strawberries experienced cognitive decline at a far slower rate than those who did not. This inferred that frequent consumption of berries is key to maintaining cognitive health, especially in old age.
Like most fruits, there are not many disadvantages to eating blueberries. Indeed, they appear to be one of the most nutritious foods that exist, but despite this, some warnings must be mentioned. As with most things, you can have too much of a good thing.
Notwithstanding the nutritional benefits of blueberries, some investigators show interest in overdosing on these substances. The body requires a delicate balance of antioxidants and free-radicals in order to work effectively. Eating blueberries in excessive amounts may upset this balance, and lead to adverse effects, such as breathlessness and impaired muscle function.
For this to happen, nevertheless, you would require to eat a very huge amount of blueberries, which is not likely to happen.