Who among you that don”t love the tasty and fresh juicy blueberry? Berries taste delicious and yet full of benefits. Blueberries are the fruits that commonly growing in flowering plants from genus Vaccinium, section Cyanococcus. It is in the same family with cranberries, bilberries, and cowberries. These berries are popular for their taste and health benefits. Nowadays, blueberries are both cultivated and picked wild. Vaccinium corymbosum or Northern Highbush Blueberry is the most common cultivated species of blueberry.
We used to found blueberries in jellies, bread jams, cookies, muffin or pies. They can be baked into various dish such as muffins or bread and are an ingredient in many other food especially snacks. We can also find blueberry juice in market and is considered as new category of juice beverage.
Blueberry is so easy to prepare and serve. We don’t need to peel, cut, pir or core the fruit. Just simply wash the fruit and directly enjoy the juicy and fresh fruit in your mouth. It is also can be sprinkle on cereal, blended to make smoothies or even put it in tea.
Blueberries are native North America fruits. Native Americans was the first who introduced the uses of blueberries in food, drink, medicine and dye to the settlers. Wild blueberry shrubs plant only grow until reach 1 to 2 feet tall and tolerate to quite cold climate.
In the beginning of 20th century, people didn’t think that they can cultivated and domesticated blueberries. Later, Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, was started to grow an industry to cultivate blueberries. In 1911, with the help of USDA botanist Frederick Coville, they identified wild plants and tried to create new varieties of blueberry.
Even blueberries are grown worldwide nowadays, North America leads the production of blueberries, it supply 90 percent of the world’s berries in the market. People in North America used to harvest blueberry from mid-April through early October depend on climate and location. The peak time of harvest usually occurs during July, which known as National Blueberry Month.
Blueberry is erect plant with the shrub that can grow from 10cm to 4 meters in height. Cultivated blueberry usually smaller species (low – bush blueberry) compared to wild blueberry (high-bush blueberry). Blueberry has evergreen with ovate or lanceolate leaves and 1-8cm long. The flowers are white, red or pink, pale color with bell shaped. The fruit itself is berry with diameter between 5-6 milimeters. Unripe blueberries are greenish then turn into reddish purple and finally when the fruits are ripe the turn into dark purple color.
Blueberries is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world and contain high levels of antioxidants. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test of blueberry show that blueberry is one of food with highest antioxidant level. Isn’t it amazing? Below are nutrients that you can get from one single serving of blueberry :
Amount Per 1 cup (148 g)
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 14 mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 21 g 7%
Dietary fiber 3.6 g 14%
Sugar 15 g
Protein 1.1 g 2%
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 24%
Calcium 0% Iron 2%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 2%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Blueberry also contains phytochemicals as flavonol, tannins, anthocyanine, and Galic Acid
Health Benefits of Blueberry
In small package of blueberries you can gain lots of health benefits. Here comes the list of health proven benefits from blueberry :
1. Inhibit the growth of cancer
Studies reported that blueberry contains great number of antioxidant and its capable to inhabit the cell proliferation in all cell lines and lowering the risk of cancer including oral, breast, colon and prostate cancer. Study used different berry extracts, but it was found that blueberry has the greatest effects on colon and breast cancer cells. A further in vitro study was trying to find the anticancer component in berries. Later, blueberry is found to contain phytochemicals such as flavonol, tannin, phenolic acid and anthocyanin. The anthocyanin shown the strongest effect to inhibit cancer cell proliferations.
2. Lowering the risk of heart disease
It is well known that fruit and vegetable is best nutrition for heart and it has significant effect in lowering the risk of heart disease. The antioxidant in blueberry can maintain heart health by get rid the oxidative stress away. A study examined the effect of blueberry consumption to people who smoke cigarette and having heart problem. The study shown after regular consumption of 250mg blueberries in a day for three weeks, there are significant decrease of oxidative stress found among them and its compared to people who didnt consume it.
Regular consumption of blueberry which contain anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women based on recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia.
3. Boost brain function and prevent alzheimer
Its also believed that consumption of blueberries play an important role in delaying the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. There have been several studies that show positive results of blueberry consumption. A study in laboratory using animal reported that after 8 weeks feeding animal with blueberry extracts there are significant result of brain cell memory improvement. Researchers concluded that the polyphenols can enter the brain and prevent damage of brain cells.
4. Promote healthy digestion
Blueberries extract contain phenolic compound which are capable to inhibit pathogen bacteria growth such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus and heliobacter pylori. It is known that H pylori can be resistant to a kind of antibiotic, clarithromycin. The study found that, blueberry extract not only inhibit the growth of H. Pylori but also increased the susceptibility of H. pylori to clarithromycin.
5. Lowering blood cholesterol
Since blueberry derived from plant it contain fiber which known to lower blood cholesterol. Fiber can block the absorption of bad cholesterol in blood. A research by scientist in Hongkong has proved that blueberry extract can lowering blood cholesterol. After feeding animals for six week with blueberry extract, it significantly decreased the total blood cholesterol between 6 – 12 %. This may lead to prevention of blood vessels blockage or atheriosklerosis.
6. Help in weight Lost
Blueberry is high in fiber and antioxidant. It also low calories food with low GI or gliyemic index level. These are the reasons why nowadays many diet supplements put blueberries as main ingredients. The low glycemix index of blueberry ( means it doesn’t increase blood sugar quickly ) make you feel satiety longer. Blueberry is also categorized as low carb food which slowly absorb by the body. Fiber which contained in blueberry also help to control appetite and delay hunger. This is great news for you who planning to have diet.
7. Reduce the risk of Hypertension by lowering blood pressure
Just one serving of blueberry a week can decrease the risk of hypertension by 10 percent. Recent study that published in 2013 from the Nurse Health Study data shown that having three or more weekly servings of blueberries reduce the risk of heart attack by the cause of high blood pressure until 34 percent.Blueberry also low in sodium so it is save for people who suffer from hypertension.
8. Prevent urinary tract infection
Blueberry may prevent urinary tract infections according to study from University of Maryland Medical Center. A journal published “The New England Journal of Medicine “ 1998 reported that blueberry contain a compound called proanthocyanidins, which can prevent bacteria infection in urinary tract. Large amount of Vitamin C also can inhibit the growth of pathogen bacteria in urinary tract, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It is recommended to consume 15 milligrams of Vitamin C from blueberry a day to get the benefit.
9. Fight skin aging
As superfood, blueberry contains high antioxidant which can blockade free radicals to enter and damage the skin. Free radicals is harmful for skin because it causing oxydative stress which trigger dry skin and wrinkle. Take one serving of blueberries will help your skin to stay young.
10. Acne removal
Blueberry is not only make your skin looks younger but also can remove acne. Acne is one of skin problem which mostly suffer by teenagers and adult and sometime it becomes so annoying. Blueberry contain high concentration of salicylates, the salt form of salicylic acid. It is well known that salicylic acid is used in many topical acne treatment products. Salicylic acid can open skin pores, cleaning it from dead skin cells and remove bacteria which can cause acne.
11. Promotes hair growth
If you have problem with growing hair, blueberry can be a solution. Proanthocyanidins, a phytochemical substance found in blueberry can stimulate hair growth by pushing dead skin cell or keratin from hair follicle and help the formation of new hair cells.
12. Prevent hair graying as pernicious anemia sign
The vitamin B-12 contained in blueberry can prevent hair from graying. Some cases reported that deficiency of Vitamin B-12 can cause an illness which called pernicious anemia and it promotes the hair to lost the pigmen. Regular consumption of blueberry can prevent from pernicious anemia and graying hair.
13. Improves Vision
People especially Japanese used to call blueberry as “The Vision Fruit. The high level of antioxidant in blueberry along with other phytochemical can help to improve better vision. A recent study in Japan reported that blueberry can improve night vision, high respond to darkness and fates adjustment respond to glare exposure. Europian studies also show the role of blueberry extract in preventing cataract formation.
14. Maintain healthy bones
Blueberry contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, , manganese, magnesium zinc and vitamin K which contribute maintain healthy and strong bones. Vitamin K deficiency is less aware by people but it can cause serious problem which increase the risk of bone fracture. Adequate intakes of Vitamin K also will help the bones to absorb calcium more efficient
15. Prevent diabetes
One cup of blueberries contains 3.6 grams of fiber. Consuming three servings blueberry per week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 % according to a study published in BMJ, 2013. Studies also shown that consuming fiber from blueberry can lower blood glucose in people with diabetics type 1 and improved insulin levels in type 2 diabetics.
16. Fight stress and promotes good mood
The high level of antioxidant and Vitamin C in blueberries can significantly reduce short and also long-term stress. When you feel stress and pressure, your heart might beat faster. To overcome this condition, you can simply grab some blueberry and the components inside it will help your body to feel relax. It has been proved that Vitamin C along with other phytochemicals in blueberry can remove cortisol which known as stress hormone. When the cortisol remove from the blood circulation, the body will experience good mood without anxiety.
17. Healing wound, burn and inflammation
Studies reported that blueberry gel can slightly boost the wound healing. Blueberry has been proved to have antimicrobial property which can reduce inflammation, pain and accelerate wound healing. Even more blueberry can simply heal the cutting or burning wound by triggering the skin regeneration.
18. For pregnant women, it prevent premature baby birth
There are some health benefits of blueberry which related to pregnancy. Regular consumption of blueberry can prevent premature birth and low weight birth. It also promote fetus bones development.
19. Alleviate constipation
Constipation is a problem which related to bowel movement and resulting harder or lumpier stool than usual. Symptoms of constipation may vary include discomfort feeling and sometime stomach pain. Constipation can be caused by several factors, one of them is inadequate intake of fiber. Blueberry contains high fiber which can help bowel movement and alleviate constipation.
20. Strengthen immune system
According to the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, a study by Oregon State University researchers reported that pterostilbene found in blueberries when combined with vitamin D, could boost immune system and the body’s ability to fight illness.
Are there health risk of consuming blueberry ?
Blueberry contains some amount of Vitamin K which is not suggested to consume if you are taking blood-thinners treatment such as Coumadin (warfarin). Vitamin K in blueberry can inhibit the medicine effect and resulting blood clotting.
Blueberry is good for pregnant women, but excessive consumption of blueberry may give some health risk. Before adding some blueberry to your meals better consult the doctor first.
It is good to consume blueberry but just consuming blueberry without consuming other nutrient from different source of food is not recommended. A balance diet is better if you can combine several healthy food and not just focus on one kind of food.
Tips in Purchasing and Storing Blueberry
Blueberry is sold either fresh, dried or canned. There are some tips that you may follow when you gonna purchase blueberry :
- When purchasing fresh blueberries, choose the firm, plump, dry berries with smooth and shiny skins
- Pick ripe blueberry from store by the color. The reddish blueberry is indicate that the fruit aint quite ripe. The ripeness of beery doesn’t indicates by the size
- Don’t purchase moldy fruit. Its better to avoid soft or shriveled fruit.
- Store the fresh blueberry in refrigerator as soon as you get home, with their plastic pack or other storage container.
- Don’t forget to wash berries just before you use it . Fresh blueberry is best use within ten days after purchase
- If you have a lots of blueberry along berry seasons, you can freeze the fruits and store the for longer period even for whole year.
- Even it is not necessary, you can rinse the berries just before you freeze it. But make sure you dry it before freezing process.
- Wrap blueberries in plastic or put it in container when you gonna put it in freezer.
Several Ways to Enjoy Blueberry
After knowing lots of benefits of blueberry, why don’t we start to take a nutritional benefits from blueberry that rich in phytochemicals? Although blueberry is expensive,their health benefits is worth. Here’s some ideas on working more blueberry benefits into your meals
- Add some fresh or even frozen and dried berry into your cereals. It can be hot or either cold
- On the top of pancakes or ice cream, blueberry will be more delicate and add nutrition to your favorite meals.
- It also best mixed with some vinaigrette salad dressing, So dont feel hesitate to put some berries in your green salad for more sweetness
- Spread them into a fruit salad and mix with other types of berry
- Blueberry will suit into yogurt taste and taste good with another kind of smoothies. You can also mix it with other kind of fruits
- Add them and stir blueberry into muffin batter and enjoy the sweet sour taste of bluberry inside the delightful muffin. Blueberry also add crunchiness to your sweet dessert
- Not only muffin, blueberry can also be served with coffee cake as fresh toppings
- Use blueberry to make jam, sauces or other to dress up your dessert or even main dish like grilled meat, fish, or poultry
Blueberry Recipe for healthy skin
- Blueberry for glowing skin face mask
- Steam some blueberries and crushed it
- Combine the crushed blueberries with some yogurts
- Apply mask to your face for around 15 minutes, wash and drain it after it done
- Blueberry Acne face mask
- Crushed some blueberries and mix it with lemon juice and honey
- Apply it on your face for about 20 minutes
- Rinse with lukewarm water
- Blueberry hair mask
- blend a handful of blueberries with 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- apply it on scalp for about 20 minutes, massage it sometime
- wash it with lukewarm water after 20 minutes
- Blueberry weight lost smoothie
- Blend 1 ½ cup blueberries with 1 ½ cup plain yogurt until it smooth
- You can add some non-calorie sweetener
- Serve and drink it immediately
Those are some health benefits and health tips that you can apply to your healthy life style. Choose only nutritional food to keep your body healthy and fit. The bluer blueberry you eat the better you get.