I like to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. When you see beautiful food your mind stimulates the cephalic phase of digestion, telling your body to get ready for food. Different colors of vegetables and fruits indicate different properties and different combinations of phytochemicals. My favorite food in the blue/purple category is blueberries. Blueberries are not only delicious but are a nutritional powerhouse.
Studies have shown eating blueberries helps lower cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
A recent study at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center shows eating 1 cup of blueberries daily may help reduce belly fat. Belly fat puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
Blueberries are a shrub that belongs to the heath family along with cranberries and bilberries, azaleas, and mountain laurel. They grow both wild and cultivated. The nutritional power from blueberries comes from their skin.
The anthocyanins in the blueberry’s skin are key players in neutralizing free-radical damage that cause many of the degenerative diseases that plague us as we age.
7 Reasons to Eat Blueberries
1. Highest Antioxidant Amount of All Fruits
Just one serving of blueberries provides as many antioxidants as five servings of carrots, apples, broccoli or squash. They are a superfood loaded with phytonutrients that have benefits unlike any other.
Blueberries work their magic because of their incredibly high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients – particularly one type flavanoid called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin pigments give blueberries their intense blue-purple color. The darker the berry, the higher the anthocyanin content.
Antioxidants boost up your immune system and prevent infections. When your immunity is strong you are less likely to catch colds or any other viral and bacterial communicable diseases.
2. Helps Reduce Belly Fat
The ability of blueberries to reduce belly fat is thought to be due to the high level of naturally occurring antioxidants and flavonols contained in blueberries.
Catechins, flavanoids found in blueberries, activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss, especially around the belly. According to research at Tufts University, regularly ingesting catechins increases abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and doubles total weight loss. Catechins are also found in green tea and chocolate.
Researchers at University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center studied the effect blueberries had when added to the diet of rats. After 90 days, rats that received a blueberry-enriched diet had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity.
3. Good for Your Vision
Blueberries can improve nighttime vision, promote quicker adjustment to darkness and promote faster restoration of visual clarity after exposure to glare.
Blueberries contain a special group of antioxidants called carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin), additional flavonoids (like rutin, resveritrol, quercetin etc.), in addition to others such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, selenium, zinc and phosphorous, which are essential for the health of your eyes.
4. Prevents Memory Loss
All the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in blueberries work to prevent degeneration and death of neurons and brain cells.
According to the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, laboratory studies show eating blueberries can reverse the short-term memory loss that comes with aging or age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They can even heal damaged brain cells and neuron tissues keeping your memory sharp.
5. Beneficial for The Urinary Tract
Urinary tract infections come from the build up of b-coli bacteria along the inner lining of the urinary tract resulting in inflammation. Blueberries contain molecules that alter the bladder tissue in such a way that the bacteria are not able to adhere for long enough to establish an infection. These molecules seem to “wash off” the bacteria from the inner lining of the urinary tract flushing them out along with the urine. They are not able to adhere for long enough to establish an infection The compounds responsible for inhibition of bacterial adherence are called proanthocyanidins, and both blueberries and cranberries are rich in this substance.
6. Promotes Heart Health
Blueberries are high in soluble fiber which along with it’s amazing antioxidants help your body dissolve bad cholesterol.
Blueberries contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin. Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain. They also strengthens the cardiac muscles.
7. Prevents Cancer
Blueberries are a rich source of the phytonutrient ellagic acid. Ellagic acid has proven anticancer and genetic-material-protection capabilities. It also encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis—how the body seeks out and destroys harmful or damaged cells, like cancer cells
Ellagic Acid which, in harmony with anthocyanin and other antioxidants like vitamin-C and copper, can do miracles to prevent and cure cancer.
How To Buy Blueberries
Choose berries with and even blue color and a whitish hue. Check the container to notice whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are damaged or moldy. When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries are not clumped together, which may suggest that they have been thawed and refrozen.
Since blueberries keep you fresh, active, fit, sharp, close to nature and in a good mood, try popping fresh or frozen blueberries into your mouth for a refreshing treat. While all blueberries are good wild blueberries are the best if you can find them . Remember, the deeper the color of the blueberries, the more they are rich in anti oxidants and other medicinal values. Here are some of my favorite blueberry recipes…
Raw Blueberry Pudding Macadamia nuts make this pudding rich and creamy
Gluten Free Blueberry Cobbler I make this every summer when the blueberries are in season.
Blueberry Parsley Smoothie Delicious and full of antioxidants a great way to start your day
Low Glycemic Blueberry Smoothie This is one of my most popular cleanse recipes. It is packed with 5 of the top 10 foods to aid blood sugar control.