The Benefits of Blueberries in Your Diet Plan
Blueberries are small blue (sometimes purple!), sweet and succulent nutrition powerhouses! Add them to your meals and enjoy a real nutritional boost!
Fresh blueberries are extremely popular in the summer months, while frozen or dried blueberries are consumed more during the winter. There are so many health benefits associated with blueberries, that over the years they have been named a ‘superfood', but do they really live up to the hype?
High in antioxidants – especially anthocyanins. Blueberries win the number one antioxidant prize, containing the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruit and veg! Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cell structures, therefore contributing to ageing. They also promote diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Good source of Vitamin C – 100g provides nearly a quarter of your daily requirements. Vitamin C has several important biological functions including cell protection, maintaining healthy connective tissues, wound healing and a healthy immune system.
Good source of Vitamin K – 100g provides approximately a third of your daily requirements. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting, helping your wounds heal properly and it also helps to keep your bones healthy.
Good source of manganese with 100g providing nearly a quarter of your daily requirements. Manganese is important for bone development and converting carbohydrates and fats into energy.
Good source of fibre: 2.4g/100g. Fibre is essential for healthy bowels and consuming adequate amounts of fibre per day is scientifically proven to decrease your risk of developing bowel cancer. Fibre also helps keep you full for longer so can aid with weight loss.
Low in calories – with only 57kcal per 100g. This makes it ideal to include in your diet plan, even more so if you are trying to lose weight!
They have a low glycemic index. Low GI foods are absorbed more slowly, preventing your blood glucose from peaking too quickly and therefore helping to delay hunger pangs.
There are many health claims of this so-called superfood, mostly claiming better heart health, decreased risk of cancer and improved memory. But is there any scientific evidence to support this? A study in 2012 of 93,000 women found that participants who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 % lower risk of a heart attack compared to those who ate berries much less frequently (once a month or less). Unfortunately the study could not prove that these fruits definitely caused the lower risk. Laboratory studies on cells and animals show a decrease in free radical damage that can cause cancer, but this is not enough evidence to say that it is protective in humans. There have been some studies that show an association between blueberries and spatial learning and memory. Unfortunately, they relied on small groups or animals. Therefore there is no evidence linking the consumption of blueberries with an improved memory.
In conclusion, the little research on the health claims of blueberries in humans is inconclusive. However, as we saw earlier, thanks to such an amazing nutritional profile, they have benefits that far exceed their tiny size and are therefore a great choice as one of your five a day.
This tasty little powerhouse is a great healthy summer treat and can be enjoyed in so many ways. You can add them to your breakfast porridge, muesli or cereal, add it to homemade smoothies, add to fat-free Greek yogurt for a lovely dessert, mix it with other berries to make a delicious fruit salad, or simply nibble on during the day as a healthy snack. And before you even think about it...no, a blueberry muffin does not count as one of your five a day!!!