Thinking about eating for your health sometimes conjures visions of green juices, flavorless dinners, and supplements that you can’t pronounce. Wouldn’t it be great if eating well is as simple as adding a cup of blueberries to your daily routine? Who doesn’t like blueberries (especially when they are included in recipes like refreshing smoothies or yummy pancakes!)?
Some experts now suggest that eating blueberries may quite literally keep the doctor away. One serving (a handful or a cup) of blueberries contains only 80 calories and contributes essential nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and phytonutrients called polyphenols. This group of polyphenols includes anthocyanins, which are compounds that give blueberries their beautiful blue color.
Would you believe that the simple act of eating blueberries may be one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health, insulin response, and brain health? This superfood isn’t just delish, it may be the perfect food that supports your health goals.
These are the three biggest health benefits you can reap when you eat a cup of blueberries every day. And if you want to supercharge your health benefits, consider adding these 40 Foods Nutrition Experts Told Us You Should Be Eating Every Day to your grocery list.
Blueberries may improve your cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular disease is a major public health concern in the United States and is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women. If cardiovascular disease isn’t on your radar, it should be. Quitting smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are all excellent steps to keep your ticker ticking. Diet also plays a key role (which is why there are foods linked to increased risk of heart disease), and data now reveals blueberry’s potential role in the prevention of this disease.
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of symptoms that includes obesity, elevated fasting glucose, and decreased HDL cholesterol) who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries daily showed improved changes in measures of heart health, like increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels.
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Blueberries may modulate your insulin response
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells do not fully respond to the action of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose—according to the American Diabetes Association. As a result, the cell’s ability to take in sugar (glucose) is impaired and blood glucose levels become abnormally high. Insulin resistance can lead to Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, the most common form of diabetes.
Many people try and limit their sugar intake when they are managing their insulin response. Unfortunately, some people, in turn, avoid fruit. Don’t let the natural sugars in fruit scare you — some fruit, like blueberries, can possibly HELP your glycemic control!
A study published in Current Developments in Nutrition found that the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries daily may beneficially affect areas of health in subjects with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. In the study, when participants ate one cup of blueberries daily, they experienced significantly lower levels of serum triglycerides compared to placebo. Left untreated or uncontrolled, elevated blood triglyceride levels may increase the risk of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for individuals with diabetes.
The results also showed significantly decreased levels of serum triglycerides after blueberry consumption compared to placebo. Left untreated or uncontrolled, elevated blood triglyceride levels may increase the risk of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for individuals with diabetes.
In another study, people were told to drink smoothies either with or without blueberries twice daily for six weeks. The researchers found that those who consumed the blueberry-containing smoothie were better able to lower their blood glucose in response to insulin than those who consumed the smoothie without blueberries.
While limiting refined sugar is a good idea if you are managing your blood sugars, cutting out fruit like blueberries may cause more harm than good in the long run.
Blueberries may play a significant role in brain health
Blueberries and your brain health are a match made in heaven. Those beautiful blue antioxidants may be the ticket to keeping your mind sharp and healthy. Thank the berry’s antioxidant content that may play a role in possibly reducing a decline in brain function.
One studies evaluated the effects of blueberry intake on human brain function by having participants follow a diet supplemented with blueberries daily for 90 days. Researchers found that people showed significantly fewer errors in tests used to assess verbal memory and task switching compared to those who took a placebo.
In another study, researchers found that older adults with cognitive impairment had increased brain activity in certain parts of the brain while on a blueberry supplemented diet.
While research is still needed to definitively say that a cup of blueberries truly keeps the doctor away, incorporating those sweet little fruits into your diet comes with little (if any) risk.
Small steps like sprinkling them onto your oatmeal, adding them to your smoothie, or even dipping them in yogurt and freezing them for a refreshing snack will certainly not cause harm to your health, and they may actually help! If you need some recipe inspiration, try any of these 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.