What are Blueberries?
Blueberries are fruits of a flowering perennial shrub. They belong to the Cyanococcus family which includes cranberries and bilberries as well.
The fruits are pale greenish when they are unripe and turn into deep blue or purple or indigo when they are ripe. They are small in size. Their size may be as small as a pea. The biggest of blueberries are of the size of a marble. They are also called star berries because they have a star shaped crown on the top. The fruits are sweet and delicious.
Blueberry is believed to have originated from North America, Europe, Africa and New Zealand.
It was the Native Americans who first included blueberries in their diet. Wild blueberries were abundantly found in the forests. The Native Americans picked them and ate them. Today blueberries are grown in almost all states of US and Canada.
Although it is a seasonal fruit, frozen blueberries are available throughout the year. The best of blueberries are firm, plump, deep blue in color and smooth-skinned.
- Blueberries are rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants in blueberries include Carotenoids and Flavanoids. Most of the antioxidants of blueberries are derived from their rich blue color.
- They contain a lot of vitamin C. They contain vitamin A, B-Complex and vitamin E too.
- They have high fiber content.
- They are a good source for manganese.
- They have natural anti inflammatory properties.
- Blueberries are rich in minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, iron, selenium and potassium.
- Anthocyanin is found in abundance in blueberries.
- Compounds like Pterostilbene and Ellagic acid are present in blueberries.
Blueberries are rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. It is of no wonder that blueberries have a lot of health benefits.
- Cancer: The antioxidants found in blueberries help in fighting against many diseases including cancer. Anthocyanin present in blueberries can miraculously cure and prevent cancer.
- Digestion: It is a known fact that fiber improves the digestion. A handful of blueberries eaten a day not only improves digestion, but also gets rid of constipation.
- Immunity: The vitamins and minerals improve the general health of a person and improve the immunity of the body. When the immunity is strong the chances of getting flu and other communicable diseases are considerably reduced.
- Vision: Blueberries provide several of the nutrients that are needed to prevent loss of vision. Blueberries reduce intraocular pressure that is one of the causes of glaucoma. They protect the eyes from getting damaged due to heavy exposure to excessive sunlight.
- Skin: Excessive oil secretion in the skin is the major cause for acne. The nutrients present in blueberries normalize the secretion of oil. Toxins present in the body can also affect the skin. The fiber in blueberries helps in eliminating the toxins from the body and so is a good home remedy for acne.
- Weight Loss: Researches point out that more than one-third of the world’s population is suffering from obesity and overweight. Blueberries are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, but they are low in calories. They contain no fat and cholesterol which are the main culprits for weight gain. They detoxify the body and they improve the digestion. Moreover, research conducted at University of Montreal has proved that blueberries juice helps in weight loss by reducing leptin resistance. Leptin is responsible for boosting the body metabolism which is essential for weight loss.
- Belly Fat: Some people may not be overweight or obese, but they may have the problem of protruding belly. University of Michigan Cardiovascular center conducted a study that concluded that blueberries reduce abdominal fat.
- Urinary Tract Infection: Urinary tract infection is usually caused by bacterial infection. The anti inflammatory and antibiotic properties of blueberries help in getting rid of these harmful bacteria. They not only inhibit the growth of bacteria, but also help to flush out these bacteria from the bladder before they enter the urethra.
- Brain: Blueberries improve the memory of an individual. The scientists of the University of Montreal suggest that blueberries can be used to treat brain related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Heart: The antioxidants, the high fiber content and the capacity to dissolve cholesterol make blueberries the wonderful choice for preventing and treating heart diseases.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Mary Ellen Camire, a professor at the University of Maine suggests that blueberries can cure erectile dysfunction in older men. She says that blueberries are packed with compounds necessary for improving the blood circulation and relaxing blood vessels. This increases the blood flow to penis.
How to Include Blueberries in your Daily Diet
Blueberries can be used for preparing smoothies. They can be included in fresh vegetable salad along with tomatoes, onion, carrot and cucumber. They can also be included in fruit salad along with apple, banana and strawberries etc. Blueberry jam and jelly can be used as spreads on bread. Blueberry tea can be used as a beverage. They can be used as an ingredient while making muffins and cookies.
Blueberries are extraordinary fruits packed with almost everything needed for a healthy living. A handful of blueberries a day is enough to live a disease-free life.