The Big Benefits of Blueberries

There's a lot of health power packed into this little fruit. Time to eat up!

by Stephanie Stephens Health Writer

Not only do they taste great, but they might also help slow aging and protect you against cancer. We're talking about blueberries here, and what's not to like about them? Besides, there's something fun about eating a blue fruit that contains only 80 calories per cup, nearly 4 grams of fiber, along with vitamins C, K, B6, and some major minerals.

Now, several new studies are popping up to support something we've known for a while: blueberries are a true "superfood." The research is so positive that The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences devoted an entire special section to the wonderfulness of this cute, colorful fruit.

In an editorial introduction to four journal articles about blueberries, Donald K. Ingram, Ph.D., reiterates that the fruit does indeed have one of the highest antioxidant compositions of most popular fruits, as well as documented anti-inflammatory properties. Here are the key takeaways from the reports:

  • Anthocyanins are responsible for blueberries' blue color, and this study found that eating a cup of the berries, or 200 grams, boosted blood vessel function and lowered systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number on your BP reading).

  • This rodent study found that, in short, eating blueberries may preserve and even reverse some age-related deficits in cognitive function. #brainpower

This study's findings indicate benefits for memory and executive functions (things like setting goals) in children and adults, with the additional benefit of improving psychomotor function—that’s the relationship between your brain and muscle function—in older healthy adults and adults with mild cognitive impairment.

  • Polyphenols in a particular extract from grapes and blueberries called PEGB were found to improve age-related episodic memory decline in people who have the highest cognitive impairments.

So go ahead and fill up on these memory-boosting, heart-helping berries and reap the benefits.

How to Eat More Berries

Blueberries are simply scrumptious right from your hand to your mouth, plain and simple. But if you're looking for other ways to consume this highly nutritious fruit, why not try eating them these ways?

  • Frozen: On a hot summer’s day, grab some frozen blueberries and crunch 'em right out of the bag.

  • Blended into smoothies: The texture and color are sure to please your palate. Use fresh or frozen, and mix with spinach or kale for an extra nutritious treat. Here’s a tasty blueberry smoothie recipe approved by the American Heart Association (AHA) to get you started.

  • Tossed over salads: Sure, they aren’t your standard salad ingredient, but they work beautifully in a fruit salad, of course, as well as tossed into your typically traditional salad of greens—whether romaine or arugula. Go ahead and be adventurous here—maybe add some toasted nuts as well!

  • Sprinkled over cereal: They're right at home on cold and hot whole-grain cereals and steel-cut oatmeal.

  • Mixed into yogurt: You can buy blueberry yogurt, so add a few more to that, as well as to other fruit flavors, vanilla, and plain. Go for low-fat, fat-free, and Greek varieties for the best health benefits, according to the AHA.

Stephanie Stephens
Meet Our Writer
Stephanie Stephens

Stephanie Stephens is a very experienced digital journalist, audio/video producer and host who covers health, healthcare and health policy, along with celebrities and their health, for a variety of publications, websites, networks, content agencies and other distinctive clients. Stephanie was accepted to THREAD AT YALE for summer 2018 to author and produce an investigative series. She is also active in the animal welfare community.