Blueberries may be the best thing nature has to offer for good health. They are high in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, B, C, E, Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Iron which neutralize free radicals that lead to inflammation and disease in the body.
While they can be relatively expensive when purchased on a regular basis, they are well worth the cost when you consider the benefits to your health. If cost is an issue, one option is to grow your own in a blueberry garden.
Blueberries are a Super Food with Antioxidants
Blueberries are considered by many researchers to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. If there is a perfect food, this may be it.
In fact, tests have shown that they have the highest ORAC value of any food ever tested.
What does that mean?
ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It provides a rating system for the antioxidant power of foods.
The ORAC score was created by the National institute of Health and is a way of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods. It is thought that foods with a high ORAC rating are more effective at fighting free radicals.
Food scientists also use the ORAC rating system to test how well all of the different phytochemicals and antioxidants in foods perform together. The rating tells you how much protection value the antioxidants provide in any given food.
Here are just a few of the many benefits associated with this super food along with some suggestions on how you can get more of them into your diet.
Blueberries Plaque Build-up and Cancerous Cells
The compound works at the cellular level similar to resveratrol by regulating the fatty acid metabolism and fats in the blood which helps control the development of plaque in the arteries.
Blueberries contain a flavonoid that has been shown to inhibit an enzyme that leads to cancerous tumors.
Of all fruits tested, blueberries showed the greatest benefit in decreasing the effects of cancerous activity in the body.
Blueberries are Brain Food
Blueberries contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like anthocyanin. Inflammation and oxidative stress lead to come of the major diseases of our time such as Parkinson, diabetes heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
These nutrients help the neurons in the brain communicate with one another more effectively improving brain and cognitive function as we age.
As the brain ages, the connections wear down so that parts of the brain does not communicate well with other parts which typically affects memory as well as balance and coordination.
The medical term for this type of communication is called signaling. Blueberries have compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to activate these signals.
Not only do blueberries enable better communication between the neurons in the brain, but they can actually grow new neurons.
Blueberries Protect Your Skin
According to research, free-radicals within the body contribute to the aging process. Blueberries, with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are thought to slow the oxidative processes caused by these radicals that lead to the aging of the body on the inside and outside, and are responsbile for many of the degenerative diseases.
Blueberries contain a compound called pterostilbene lowers lipid levels that contribute to the aging process. In fact, pterostilbene is more effective than resveratrol, an anti-aging compound that occurs naturally in grapes and some prescription drugs like Ciprofibrate.
Blueberries not only protect you on the inside, but they also can protect the skin on the outside from harmful UV-B rays from the sun. These UV-b rays can premature aging and wrinkling by damaging the cellular structure of the skin.
Research has shown that when skin cells are exposed to blueberry extract, it helps reduce the degradation of the collagen found in the affected area. Once again, it is the anthyocyanins that are responsible for this healing effect.
Blueberries Can Improve Your Vision
Blueberries have been shown to improve eye health and protect against glaucoma and cataracts.
Once again, the anthocyanins are the beneficial culprits. Their anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to reduce eye strain and improve your vision at night.
There is also some promising research that suggests that they can aid in the prevention of macular degeneration which affects the retina causing blindness in elderly people.
Blueberries Help Control Blood Sugar and Weight
Blueberries are low on the glycemic index which means that after you eat a handful, they will not spike your blood sugar to extreme levels causing your body to produce an insulin spike to remove the sugar from your blood.
Because of this property, they are great for snacks as well as helping to control your appetite throughout the day by balancing your blood sugar. The fewer insulin spikes you have, the less opportunity your body will have to convert the excess insulin into fat stores.
How Many Blueberries Do You Need in a Day?
Most studies have shown that you can reap all of the benefits discussed above by eating just ½ cup of blueberries every day.
Best of all, there has been no evidence shown that fresh blueberries offer any more benefits than frozen ones so you can add the convenience of buying the large bag of frozen ones at the grocery store rather than purchasing the small box of fresh ones that only last about a week.
I typically go through a large bag of frozen blueberries in a few weeks, depending on how many smoothies I make during that time. Usually I have one a day, however, there are some day where I skip it depending on what else I had to eat.
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Ways to Get More Blueberries in Your Diet
One of my favorite ways to eat blueberries every day is to add them to a smoothie. They have a great taste and blend well in a normal blender allowing you to counter some of the harsher tasting green ingredients that you may include.
I typically add about a cup of them to each smoothie. If they are frozen, be sure to wash them in a colander first
If are trying to watch what you eat and get a sweet craving, try one of the best tasting recipe for a smoothie. Add blueberries and a banana along with some unsweetened almond milk and ice cubes and blend on high for about 2 minutes.
Another option for a snack is to eat frozen ones on top of plain Greek yogurt. When you mix the two together, the yogurt will coalesce around the cold blueberries making a delicious yogurt blueberry treat.
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