The most important of all blueberries health benefits would be LDL cholesterol reduction. Dr. Agnes Rimando and a team of researchers at the University of Mississippi’s Natural Products Utilization Research, set out to find a natural alternative to cholesterol lowering drugs.
The nutrient Pterostilbene, which are found in high concentrations in blueberries, was one of their three most successful studies. Health Benefits of the outcome included a 29% drop in LDL cholesterol and a 7% increase in good. In addition, because the Pterostilbene in blueberries was quite selective in the cells it targeted, it didn’t cause the nausea or muscle fatigue that the cholesterol lowering drug did. Voila’ – A success.
Of all the blueberries health benefits, perhaps the most famous is resveratrol. While few know that blueberries are a source of resveratrol, many know the health benefits from the stories and news on red wine. Resveratrol in blueberries helps combat the signs of aging, improve life extension, fight disease, prevent free radical damage and increase cardiovascular function.
In the world of antioxidants, resveratrol and the OPC’s in blueberries are the superheros. Make sure you’re taking a daily nutritional supplement with these antioxidants to get the benefits all year long.
Blueberry Health Benefit Facts
The blueberry belongs to the same family as the rhododendron, huckleberry and bilberry (ericaceae). Blueberries are larger than the other two and have many small seeds that are not noticeable when eaten.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Center have found that blueberries rank No. 1 in antioxidant benefits, compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. From a nutrient perspective blueberries exhibit the following, as taken from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008):
In a 1/3 Cup Sample of Blueberries (which equals 5o berries or 68 grams):
- 57.26 grams is water
- .5 grams protein
- .2 grams fat
- 1.6 grams of fiber
- 13 grams is sugar
- Calcium 4 mg
- Magnesium 4 mg
- Phosphorus 8mg
- Potassium 52 mg
- Sodium 1 mg
- Traces of: Zinc, Copper, Iron, Manganese & Selenium
- Vitamin C 6.6 mg
- Folate 4 mcg
- Choline 4.1 mg
- Vitamin A 39 mcg
- Carotene 22 mcg
- Lutein 54 mcg
- Vitamin K 13.1 mcg
- Traces of: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, & Vitamin E
- Chlorogenic Acid
- Ellagic acid
- Proanthocyanidins (OPC’s)
- Flavonols, and tannins
2400 ORAC* units per 100 grams of blueberries.
Health Benefits of that would be like eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Blueberries are the most widely grown fruit crop in the U.S.; most of the world’s blueberries come from North America. There are 34 species of blueberry worldwide. Used mainly for food, the hardy deciduous blueberry shrub is used for landscape and home plantings as well. Rabbiteye are the most common type grown in the South; whereas the highbush are the most widely cultivated nationwide.
Some other types include The lowbush, which is adapted to the far north, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin, tifblue, Brightwell, Premier, Climax, Southern Highbush, Ozark Blue, and Reveille.
Don’t just pick up a pint of blueberries at the store, learn how to grow your own blueberries.
Blueberries Help Urinary Tract Infections
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified compounds in blueberries called proanthocyanidins (otherwise known as OPC’s) that promote urinary tract health and reduce the risk of infection. OPC’s prevent bacteria from adhering to walls of the urinary tract. Their main function is to strengthen walls of veins and arteries in the body by preventing the pits caused by free radical damage.
Also, like cranberries, blueberries are acidic and “prescribed” during urinary tract problems because the bacteria have a more difficult time living in an acidic environment.
Blueberries Weight Loss Health Benefits
At the 2009 Experimental Biology Convention, the University of Michigan scientists discovered that a low-fat, blueberry-enriched diet helped decrease belly fat, total body weight and cholesterol.
We think this is somewhat misleading. Imagine if you were told to go on a low-fat diet and include fruits like blueberries in your meals. What are the chances you would lose weight? Bodyfat? We believe there are many, many health benefits of blueberries – but think this might be stretching it a bit.
*Information from the US Highbush Blueberry Council website www.blueberry.org. They cited Prior R, Cao G, Martin A, Sofic E, McEwen J, O’Brien C, Lischner N. Ehlenfeldt M, Kalt W, Krewer G, Mainland DM, Antioxidant capacity as influenced by total phenolic and anthocyanin content, maturity and variety of Vaccinium species. J agric Food Chem 46: 2686-2693, 1998.