The (Many) Health Benefits of Blueberries
It’s no secret that a colorful fruits, especially blueberries, offer a variety of health benefits. From reduced risk of debilitating diseases to improved complexion and hair, blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse that have significant positive effects on human health. And new studies are showing that blueberries can even enhance cognitive function. With summer—and fresh berries—due to arrive in farmers’ markets and on farm stand shelves in a little more than a month, there’s never been a better time to incorporate fresh, local blueberries into your diet.
Blueberries are chock-full of many health-promoting vitamins and compounds, including anthocyanins, a flavonoid that has been linked to protection against free radical damage and a decreased risk of cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The blueberry is also known to support heart health, with high levels of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Likewise, this humble fruit’s high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium all help to decrease blood pressure. Blueberries are also high in vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption—a low intake of which has been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture. Some studies even suggest that regular eating of blueberries can promote healthy skin and hair, increase energy, and contribute to weight loss.
Recent studies have demonstrated the blueberry’s positive effect on cognitive function. A pair of 2014 studies found that consumption of blueberries can improve short-term memory loss and motor coordination, and in patients with the neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease, consumption of blueberries has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Another study found that blueberries (in a freeze-dried powder form) may also have an effect on the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” concluded lead author Robert Krikorian.
The latest study, published in March 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition, provided more evidence that blueberry consumption improves cognitive function. The authors found that adults age 60 to 75 who consumed 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (the equivalent of one cup fresh berries) daily showed significant improvement in verbal memory, repetition, and task switching over their placebo-group counterparts.
Blueberry Nutrition at a Glance
A 1-cup serving of blueberries contains:
- 84 calories
- 3.6 grams of dietary fiber (14% of daily requirement)
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 1.1 grams of protein
- .49 grams of fat
- 21 grams of carbohydrate
- 24% of an adult's recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 5% of vitamin B6, and 36% of vitamin K
- Iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, beta-carotene, folate, choline, vitamin A, vitamin E
- Phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity, including anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and chlorogenic acid
To locate a farm in your area of New York that sells fresh, locally grown berries, visit our Find a Farm directory.