It's common knowledge that fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients, but blueberries are considered a cut above the rest.
In fact, blueberries are commonly classified as a ‘superfood,’ that is, a food purported to have higher than average nutrient concentrations.
But just how good can this tiny berry be?
As you’ll see in the multiple studies we look into below, blueberries continue to be viewed as a nutritional powerhouse—and with good reason.
Here are eight scientifically-proven blueberry benefits you need to know.
1 - BLUEBERRIES ARE NUTRIENT DENSE
You’ve heard blueberries referred to as a superfood. Beyond marketing, this is an apt descriptor of just how nutrient-dense they really are.
They have an impressive nutritional profile with a high amount of vitamins and minerals.
But what exactly are the nutrients that make blueberries so special?
Let's start with a quick table covering their basic nutritional values:
NutrientAmount per 150 g (1 cup)Calories84 caloriesProtein0.7 gCarbohydrates14.5 gSugar15 gDietary Fiber2.4 gFat0.3 g
Beyond this, blueberries also provide a host of other nutrients. For instance, just one cup of blueberries contains:
- Vitamin C: 24% of your recommended dietary intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Manganese: 25% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 5% of the RDI
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, plays a vital role in your body’s immune support and normal collagen formation, which are crucial in wound healing.
Vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone (K1), helps synthesize various proteins needed for blood clotting and bone formation. These proteins include prothrombin and osteocalcin.
Manganese is essential for metabolizing cholesterol, amino acids, carbohydrates, and glucose. Additionally, it helps in bone formation, blood clotting, and hemostasis.
Blueberries are uniquely beneficial to the body because they provide both manganese and vitamin K simultaneously.
Additionally, blueberries also have small amounts of other dietary nutrients, namely:
- 114 mg potassium
- 18 mg phosphorus
- 9 mg calcium
- 9 mg magnesium
- 9 mg folate
- 1 mg sodium
- 0.41 mg iron
- 0.24 zinc
2 - BLUEBERRIES CONTAIN POTENT ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules linked to aging and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and stroke.
Blueberries contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in any fruit or vegetable. The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries are phytochemicals called flavonoids.
Their vibrant purple color is a result of these phytochemicals.
There are different kinds of phytochemicals in different fruits and vegetables. The ones in blueberries are called anthocyanins.
Expert Tip: Freezing blueberries improves the availability of the antioxidants in them. It’s also worth noting that dried berries contain only 20 percent of the phytonutrients available in fresh blueberries, and have higher sugar levels.
3 - BLUEBERRIES IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION
Oxidative stress accelerates your brain's aging process and negatively affects brain function.
Blueberries, through the phytochemicals they contain, help combat oxidative stress and promote brain health.
According to The Peninsula College Of Medicine and Dentistry, blueberries are effective at reversing age-related deficits in memory function.
The flavonoids present in blueberries have been shown to activate signaling proteins via specific pathways in the hippocampus—the part of the brain that controls memory and learning.
The flavonoids benefit aging neurons in the brain, leading to improvements in cell signaling.
Furthermore, in a study presented to the American Chemical Society, when a group of volunteers in their 70s who had mild memory decline drank two cups of blueberry juice every day for two months, they showed significant improvement in learning and memory tests.
These findings suggest that consistent supplementation with blueberries may forestall or mitigate neurodegeneration.
“...blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive functions in some older adults…”
— Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., leader of the research team.
4 - BLUEBERRIES HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE
Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants which drastically reduce bad cholesterol in the body and enhance smooth blood flow in the arteries.
According to a six-month study conducted by the University of East Anglia, consuming 150 g (5 ounces) of blueberries every day can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 15 percent.
The research showed a sustained improvement in vascular function and arterial stiffness in the participants, all of whom had metabolic syndrome—a condition that significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Another study involving 93,600 nurses found that a high intake of anthocyanins—the primary antioxidant in blueberries—was linked to a 32 percent reduction of heart attacks.
5 - BLUEBERRIES PROTECT FROM CHOLESTEROL DAMAGE
Oxidative damage is not restricted to your cells and DNA. It also happens to the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.
The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is a crucial step in the development of heart disease, making it detrimental to your health.
The antioxidants present in blueberries prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and are thus good for your heart.
In a study conducted by Oklahoma State University, findings showed that consuming 50 g (1.8 ounces) of blueberries daily lowered LDL oxidation by up to 27 percent.
Another study determined that eating 75 g (2.5 ounces) of blueberries with a main meal significantly reduced the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
6 - BLUEBERRIES HELP CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR
Blueberries contain moderate amounts of sugar compared to other fruits.
For instance, one cup of blueberries contains about 15 grams of sugar, equivalent to a small apple or a large orange.
However, the bioactive compounds in blueberries outweigh any negative impacts from their sugar.
Research suggests that the anthocyanins contained in blueberries have positive effects on both insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
In one particular study, obese individuals at risk of developing diabetes were given two blueberry smoothies every day for six weeks. By the end of the study, the participants saw an improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Enhanced insulin sensitivity reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome—two major health problems.
Blueberries have also been found to block certain digestive enzymes after a carb-heavy meal, further helping to reduce spikes in blood sugar.
7 - BLUEBERRIES IMPROVE OVERALL GUT HEALTH BENEFITS
Everyone has a gut microbiome—a collection of about 100 trillion bacterial cells located in the gastrointestinal tract. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for reducing inflammation and disease.
Blueberries are prebiotic; they contain a type of dietary fiber that fuels your gut microbiome. They do this by enhancing the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria—two of the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Additionally, the anthocyanins in blueberries are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
The fiber and anthocyanins in blueberries support your gastrointestinal microflora, allowing it to flourish and boost your overall health.
This is backed up by studies that show that adding blueberries to your diet will improve your gut microbiome, reduce gut inflammation, and boost overall immunity.
8 - EATING BLUEBERRIES PRE AND POST WORKOUT HELP MUSCLES RECOVER
Intense workouts often lead to muscle soreness and fatigue. This is partly caused by local inflammation and oxidative stress on your muscle tissue.
A study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming blueberries pre-and post-workout accelerates recovery.
This is because the bioactive compounds present in blueberries reduce the damage to your muscle tissue at a molecular level, thereby reducing soreness and fatigue post-workout.
Another study involving ten female athletes found that blueberries accelerated muscle recovery after intense leg exercises.
- Are nutrient-dense.
- Contain potent antioxidants.
- Can improve brain function.
- Can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Protect from cholesterol damage
- Help to control blood sugar.
- Improve and support overall gut health.
- Improve muscle recovery.
So there you have it.
Now you now know exactly why blueberries are regarded as a superfood and what makes them worthy of the term.