The Power of Blueberries

Think blueberries are sweet and simple? Though they range from sweet to tart, this unassuming little fruit packs a powerful punch. Learn how you can boost your health with a little berry.

Adapted from: Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal, Reader's Digest Canada

Benefits of Blueberries

  • A good source of dietary fibre.
  • A excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Provide some vitamin C and iron.
  • May protect against some intestinal upsets.
  • May help prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Anthocyanins may help prevent heart disease and cancer and may help with memory loss.

Blueberry Drawbacks

  • Can make stool dark and tarry, which may be mistaken for intestinal bleeding.
  • May cause allergic reactions in some people.

What You Should Know About Blueberries

Because cooking destroys vitamin C, eating blueberries raw preserves this antioxidant nutrient.

“Natural healers” advocate eating one cup of raw berries or drinking one to two cups of unsweetened blueberry juice a day to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. Research appears to support this advice. Blueberries are in the same plant family as cranberries and both contain a substance that prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls, where they can multiply. These berries also make urine more acidic, which helps destroy bacteria that invade the bladder and urethra.

Eating large amounts of blueberries, however, can make stools appear dark and tarry; this is a harmless situation but can be alarming, because it resembles intestinal bleeding.

Blueberries provide antioxidant power. They contain anthocyanins, flavonoids that give the fruit their distinctive blue colour. These compounds are associated with numerous health benefits such as prevention of heart disease and cancer and may even combat aging. Studies on animals show that blueberries help to prevent and reverse age-related memory loss. The specific substance has not been identified, but scientists speculate that the antioxidant power of blueberries protects brain cells from free-radical harm.

Like many fruits, blueberries are potential allergens in susceptible people. Common symptoms are itchy hives and swollen lips.

Nutritional Value

Despite being an ideal low-calorie dessert, blueberries are not especially high in nutrients. Fortunately, they do so much more.

½ cup of raw blueberries provides:

  • 10 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.7 mg of iron
  • Small amounts of potassium, folate and beta carotene
  • Almost 2 g of fibre
  • 40 calories
  • Important disease-fighting anthocyanins.

 


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