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The 3 Most Surprising Health Benefits Of Blueberries (They Make You Smarter, Too!)
One of the healthiest additions you can make to your diet is also one of the most delicious: blueberries! While it may be a popular and widely used flavor, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get health benefits from eating anything with blueberries in it. Lots of confectionary goods and juices have blueberry flavoring in them, but they are also loaded with sugar, completely negating the positive effects. In order to obtain the health benefits of blueberries, it is best to eat them in their naturally occurring form.
Blueberries come in two main varieties. There are the highbush blueberries, which are the larger, more common berries most people would recognize immediately, and the smaller lowbush berries. Blueberries in the wild tend to look more like these, and have a somewhat higher concentration of nutrients. Both varieties however are very healthy.
1. Blueberries are PACKED with antioxidants
Oxidative stress on the cells is what causes the body to age, and is also linked to an increased likelihood of a wide range of diseases, including cancer. The good news is that blueberries just might be the strongest and best tasting edible defense against free radicals. While blueberries are not the only berry or fruit that is rich in antioxidants, blueberries do have more antioxidants than almost any other kind of fruit. By eating more blueberries, you are protecting your cells from oxidative stress and are essentially keeping your body younger for longer.
The primary type of antioxidants found in blueberries are flavonoids, the most potent of which is called anthocyanin. This compound is responsible for giving blueberries their dark color, and is linked to protection from free radical damage and a number of other powerful health benefits.
The antioxidants in blueberries also help protect your DNA and defend against cancer. A study published in the Oxford Journal Carcinogenesis: Integrative Cancer Research found that drinking a blend of blueberry and apple juice for just 4 weeks led to a 20 percent reduction in oxidative DNA damage in the participants.
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2. Blueberries also lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease
Studies show a correlation between regularly consuming blueberries and a reduction in blood pressure. By consuming approximately 1.7 ounces of blueberries per day (50 grams), researchers have found that participants experienced a 4-6 percent reduction in blood pressure after 8 weeks. High blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of stroke, so incorporating more berries into your diet can be quite beneficial if you have high blood pressure.
Blueberry consumption has also been linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. LDL, or “low-density lipoprotein” is the “bad” form of cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a contributing factor to heart attacks. When this cholesterol becomes oxidized due to free radical compounds, it becomes even more dangerous. Luckily, that same 50 gram/day serving of blueberries can reduce the oxidation of cholesterol in our blood vessels by up to 27 percent!
Taken as a whole, this berry represents a formidable and edible weapon in the war on heart disease. A study conducted in 2013 was linked to a 32 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks in over 90,000 participants.
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3. Blueberries make you smarter
We’re not saying that eating some blueberries will make you ace your next calculus exam, but research has shown that blueberry consumption can protect your brain from age-related neurodegenerative decline.
It has to do with those oxidative compounds we’ve talked so much about. Those free radicals can cause oxidative damage to brain cells as well, accelerating the brain’s ageing and increasing the likelihood of dementia and other similar conditions. In studies on elderly patients with signs of neurodegenerative decay, consuming blueberries either in whole form or as juice was proven to slow cognitive aging and improve brain function.
READ ALSO: 8 Strawberry Benefits Infographic
There really is no downside to adding more blueberries into your diet. Blueberries are the ultimate win-win fruit; they taste great and they are good for you. They are also unique in that they blend well with many other fruits and other foods, making them a versatile ingredient which can be used and combined many different ways. Pick some up today and enjoy their numerous health benefits and incredible taste.