Touted as a ‘superfood’, does the blueberry live up to all the health food hype? Registered nutritionist Jo Lewin investigates the dietary benefits…
What are blueberries?
The blueberry (vaccinium myrtillus) was one of the first foods to be titled a ‘superfood’. There are many varieties growing in different regions of the world; the berries grow in clusters on shrubby bushes and can range in size.
Cultivated blueberries are sweeter than those grown wild, however, they all share the same characteristic deep blue-purple colour, thin translucent skin and tiny seeds.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides and read about the health benefits of cranberry and cranberry juice, raspberries and strawberries. Then, check out some of our brilliant blueberry recipes and blueberry pancake recipes.
Nutritional benefits of blueberries
80g of blueberries provides:
- 0.7g protein
- 0.2g fat
- 7.3g carbohydrates
- 1.2g fibre
- 53mg potassium
- 0.75mg vitamin E
- 5mg vitamin C
What are the top 5 health benefits of blueberries?
1. May be protective
Blueberries contain one of the highest antioxidant levels amongst commonly consumed fruit and vegetables. This is typically referred to as the ORAC score. They are extremely rich in naturally occurring plant compounds called phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and anthocyanidins. These phytochemicals are responsible for the blue, indigo and red colouring of the berry.
The phytochemicals in blueberries have been extensively researched for their protective properties, which helps the body combat a long list of diseases.
2. May help prevent heart disease
Research has shown that anthocyanidins, which are found in berry fruits, may support the cardiovascular system. They appear to do this by supporting the health of blood vessels and reducing the arterial stiffness which is associated with ageing.
3. May help regulate blood sugar
Blueberries are both low in sugar and a good source of fibre, as a result they have a low Glycaemic Index (GI). This, together with their high flavonoid content, may help improve insulin sensitivity which is important for managing blood sugar levels.
4. May help maintain eye health
Including blueberries regularly in your diet may improve vision and guard against age-related macular degeneration. This is thought to be thanks to the improved blood and oxygen flow to the eyes and the antioxidant protection which may help reduce the likelihood of cataract and macular degeneration.
5. May alleviate gastrointestinal issues and UTIs
Traditional medicine suggests blueberries may be a useful remedy for both gastrointestinal conditions and urinary tract infections.
Are blueberries safe for everyone to eat?
Blueberries, along with fruits including apples, peaches, avocados and raspberries contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may experience an allergic reaction to them, including skin rash and swelling.
If you are concerned about food allergies, please consult your GP or registered dietitian for guidance.
Blueberry recipe suggestions
Apple & blueberry bircher
Chicken & avocado salad with blueberry balsamic dressing
Get up and go breakfast muffins
Instant frozen berry yogurt
Heart helper smoothie