Nutrition Facts and health benefits of blueberries
When the berries are talked about, it is always the strawberries that come to our mind because of its beauty and popularity. But blueberries on the other hand have remained an overlooked fruit, although it is proved to have incredible levels of nutrition, one of the richest in antioxidants, packed dynamite of dietary fiber and innumerable health benefits. With hardly making to calorie intake @80 calories per serving of approximately 150gm and virtually zero fat blueberries makes an ideal source to rely on for its nutrition advantage and power packed health benefits.
Blueberries are native North American fruit cultivated and enjoyed since a long time by aborigines. There are many varieties of blueberries originating from North America and now cultivated widely across the globe. More than half the world’s production of blueberries comes from United States. The spread of blueberries across the globe can be attributed to the colonial British who understood the health and nutritional benefits of blueberries.
Blueberries Nutrition Facts
|Nutrients||Amount (for per serving of 150gm)|
|Total Carbohydrates||21 g|
|Dietary Fiber||3.6 g|
|Total Fat||488 mg|
|Vitamin A||80 IU|
|Vitamin C||14 mg|
|Vitamin E||844 mcg|
|Vitamin K||29 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||77 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||184 mcg|
Health benefits of Blueberries
A lot of research has been done to understand the health benefits of Blueberries. It has been proven that blueberries are beneficial in improving memory. There was a study done on persons who were around 76 years of age. They were given blueberry juice made out of three-quarters of a pound every day for 12 weeks. The participants had two to two and half cups of juice. Cognitive functions which include memory tests were conducted and it was clearly observed that blueberries increase memory power and also postpone the onset of aging symptoms.
Blueberries get their unique hues of red, purple and blue because of the presence of anthocyanin antioxidants. New research shows that blueberries can be frozen without any loss of antioxidants. They were frozen at around -17 degree Centigrade for three to six months and still there was no loss in the antioxidant concentration in blueberries. Various types of antioxidants include delphinidins, malvidins, cyanidins, peonodins and pelargonidins.
Blueberries have a low glycemic index (GI). For our overall health, it is better to consume foods which have a GI of below 50. These berries have a positive impact on the blood sugar levels. Persons with type 2 diabetes can have berries for reducing blood sugar levels. Persons who consumed fruits which have low GI (blueberries included) showed good results in controlling their blood sugar levels.
Antioxidants present in blueberries are beneficial to our entire body system. Regular consumption of blueberries will show positive impact on cardiovascular system, digestive tract nervous system and pancreas. This fruit is unique because of its antioxidant influence on the entire immune system.
When participants in a study consumed one to two cups of blueberries for a period of one to three months showed drastic improvement in the blood fat balance, cholesterol levels, increase in HDL cholestrol and reduction in triglycerides. Components like LDL Cholesterol will be protected by reducing the impact of oxygen damage which usually leads to the blood vessel clogging. The cell lining is also protected with the consumption of blueberries. If the blueberries consumption is increased to three or more cups every day, the health benefits also increase.
Another important positive impact of blueberries on cardiovascular health is the eNOS enzyme. If eNOS activity is increased, there will be less risk of inflammation. And blueberries have proven to enhance the eNOS activity.
Now coming to the next health aspect – “blood pressure”. Regular intake of blueberries balances the diastolic and systolic blood pressures. Persons without any blood pressure complaint can maintain healthy blood pressure levels by consuming blueberries.
In our body one of the organs which come under the influence of oxidative stress is the retina of the eye. The phytonutrients in blueberries have the capability to reduce the damage caused by oxygen. It is interesting to note that these berries protect the eye from the damage caused by sunlight. More research on these aspects have to be done to further ascertain the benefits of blueberries on eyes.
Research on the effect of blueberries on various types of cancers like breast cancer, esophageal cancer, small intestine cancer, colon cancer are being studied and researchers expect positive results.
Different varieties of blueberries
Rabbiteye blueberries: These type of blueberries have their origin in Southern U.S. The plants grow up between 4-10 feet.
Highbush Blueberries: These blueberries are frequently cultivated species. They can grow up to 12 feet in their native state but usually grow within 4-7 feet range. Hybrid varieties of blueberries are grown in the U.S. which produce bigger size of berries.
Lowbush Berries: As their name suggests, these blueberries grow only 2 feet or lesser. It may be their size which is not encouraging the blueberry producers to include in their produce. They are also less cultivated in comparison to Highbush blueberries.
All these varieties of blueberries are grown in many parts of the world and have become a part of cuisne in Asia and Mediterrian cooking. Predominantly grown areas are the three continents of Europe, Asia and North America.
Selection and storage
Blueberries should be firm, with uniformity in color. You should shake the container to see whether they move easily. Dull, watery and soft berries should be avoided. They should be free from moisture as water increases the chances of decay. Frozen berries are available throughout the year in supermarkets. Berries in the bags should move freely.
You have to wash the berries just before eating as washing will make the bloom disappear which usually protects the delicate skin of berries. You can store blueberries in a closed container for up to three days. They get spoiled under normal room temperature very quickly.
You have to choose ripe firm berries, place them in the freezer until they are frozen and then put them in plastic bags and store in the freezer.
It is quite clear to understand that the blueberries are exceptionally good for health. It is better if we include them in our regular diet and reap the benefits. The benefits of blueberries can be enjoyed in full if they are grown organically. A recent research showed that blueberries which are grown organically have more concentration of phenol antioxidants in comparison to blueberries which are grown under non organic conditions.