What research says about blueberries and health

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What research says about blueberries and health

Blueberries have often been labeled a "superfood," packed with nutrients and low in calories. Producers across the globe have leveraged this reputation to market the fruit based on its health benefits. 

But, what happens if you consume blueberries every day? We explore some of the benefits based on a 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine. 

“Berries and their bioactive compounds possess medicinal properties and have therapeutic potential,” the study says.

First of all, this small purple fruit contains many phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. 

Reduced risk of chronic disease

Anthocyanins and polyphenols in blueberries help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are two significant factors in developing chronic disease. 

Brittany Lubeck, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition writer, told EatingWell that, “Consumption of blueberries may help reduce the risk of certain diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cognitive decline. This is thought to be due to the presence of anthocyanins (which are powerful pigments and antioxidants) in blueberries.”

Another study in 2018 found that blueberries also have anticancer components. 

Blueberry anthocyanins and their production with pyruvic acid, the study said, can slow the progress of cancer by inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.

Lower blood pressure and cholesterol

A 2023 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when participants ate the equivalent of about 3/4 cup of blueberries a day, their blood pressure lowered.

The fiber in blueberries may contribute to reducing cholesterol levels, too. A 2020 review in Advances in Nutrition suggests that blueberries' powerful plant compounds may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL (beneficial) cholesterol. This same review notes a reduction in arterial stiffness with regular blueberry consumption, which reduces blood pressure.

Workout recovery

When you exercise vigorously, there is a temporary increase in inflammation. This is in part because you're breaking down muscle tissue while working out—almost like an injury to the muscle. But blueberries may help with that.

A 2023 study in Scientific Reports found that when adults who were not accustomed to working out performed 90-minute workouts and also ate a cup of blueberries a day for 18 days, they exhibited reduced pro-inflammatory compounds compared to those who did not eat the blueberries.

More stable blood sugar

The fiber and polyphenols in blueberries may also help manage blood sugar, per a 2023 review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry . This is in part because anthocyanins—the plant compounds that give blueberries their deep blue hue—have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. This allows your cells to take up glucose more readily from the blood to use as energy, so your pancreas doesn't have to release as much insulin.

Blueberries are also considered a low-glycemic food, ranking around 53 on the glycemic index (GI) scale. This means they won't spike your blood sugar like something that ranks higher on the GI scale would.

A one-cup serving of blueberries contains 25% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C and 4 grams of dietary fiber, but only 80 calories. 

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