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Mama always said to eat your fruits and vegetables, but now science is telling you why blueberries, especially, should be a staple in your diet. Blueberries are the superfood that acts as nature’s candy. They taste delicious whether fresh, frozen, by the handful, or added to your favorite recipes — but they’re also packed with essential nutrients that help your body thrive.
According to a collection of studies packaged in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, blueberries can even help make the inevitable aging process much smoother overall. All you have to do is eat them. For example, according to Eurekalert’s official press release on the collection, which was drawn from a symposium titled "Blue versus Gray: Potential Health Benefits of Blueberries for Successful Aging,” researchers were able to identify that consuming just one cup of blueberries per day can “improve blood vessel function and decrease systolic blood pressure.” These benefits evidently come from the anthocyanins in blueberries — aka the part of the fruit that gives off its deep blue coloring.
If such a significant health benefit can come from chemicals contributing to the fruit’s hue, what other magical powers might blueberries possess? We’ve listed a few science-based facts that will have you sold on adding blueberries to your weekly menu to benefit your mind, body, and soul.
Blueberries Are Good For The Heart and Blood Vessels
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in May of 2019, eating one cup of blueberries per day can help improve certain cardiovascular risk factors of individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (a condition in which multiple conditions may occur together, and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).
For the study, researchers asked a group of overweight and obese adults between 50 and 75 years old to either consume one cup of freeze-dried blueberry powder, one placebo that looked like a blueberry, or a mix that was half freeze-dried blueberry powder and half placebo once per day for six months, Sharecare.com reports. In the end, those who ate a full cup of blueberries per day “had less arterial stiffness, improved vascular function,” and a higher “good” cholesterol level than those who either ate fewer or no blueberries at all.
What’s more, the antioxidants in blueberries are suspected to be great protectants against harmful plaque in human arteries. Though more research needs to be done on the subject, a study found that animals who are fed blueberries on a regular basis have anywhere from 40 to 60 percent smaller “arterial wall lesions,” or damage of the tissue, than animals who are not fed any blueberries at all, according to a press release from Sharecare.com.
Antioxidants In Blueberries Keep Your Brain Sharp
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen told Sharecare.com that blueberries are high in antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids (also referred to as polyphenols) interact with the different proteins and enzymes in your brain, keeping your brain feeling young and fresh, they explain. In fact, according to research, “people who eat a high-flavonoid diet stay sharper than folks with low-flavonoid diets,” note Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen. They add that “drinking blueberry juice daily can improve your memory function by 30 percent.”
Blueberries Can Lower Your Bad Cholesterol Levels
Got high cholesterol? Why not add a handful of blueberries to your morning cereal? According to an animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry back in 2010, researchers led by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist, Wallace H. Yokoyama found that blueberries can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels by 44 percent.
Researchers believe that this is due to the fact that compounds in blueberries activate genes in the liver, and therefore aid in its proper functionality, according to Sharecare.com.