PROVEN BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES: How its antioxidants help achieve optimum health By Lindy Ford, RD, LDN
I have five children, and I can say that I don’t have a favorite. When it comes to the berry family, I can’t say as much is true. All organic berries are beneficial, but the blueberry is my favorite. Blueberries reign supreme for a multitude of health reasons.
They have the highest antioxidant profile of any of the berries. One in particular, anthocyanins, give blueberries their rich color. Anythocyanins are particularly effective in neutralizing free radicals, which lowers oxidative stress on every cell of the body. What does that mean, exactly? Less cellular damage, anti-aging properties and lowered systemic inflammation.
In the past few years, researchers found inflammation is the root of most diseases. All of blueberries’ benefits can be traced back to their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Here are a few…
1. DECREASE RISKS OF CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
We are now finding there are different parts of the LDL (a good and bad part). The bad oxidative part is responsible for increasing our risk for heart disease. Blueberries decrease the destructive LDL, as well as blood pressure.
2. INCREASE IMMUNITY
All disease and illness risk will go down. Along with anthocyanins, blueberries possess a high amount of vitamin C.
3. CONTRIBUTE TO WEIGHT LOSS
One cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, and people who consume the most fiber in their diets from fruits, but mostly low glycemic veggies, on average weigh less. Blueberries also have a high amount of manganese, which plays an important role in the body’s ability to utilize fat as energy. Another reason is because blueberries are a prebiotic food and feed good bacteria in the gut.
4. INCREASE MEMORY, COGNITION AND MOOD
Many studies have been done on children, adults and elderly adults on the effect of blueberry’s antioxidants on learning, memory and decrease in depression. There are also preliminary studies pointing in the direction of decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
5. AID IN EYE HEALTH
Blueberries help to prevent macular degeneration, cataracts and aid in eye health in general.
6. BENEFIT THE GUT AND DIGESTION
One of the reasons blueberries make our guts happy is because of fiber. The other reason is because gut bacteria love to feast on anthocyanins. Thus blueberries are a powerful prebiotic. The newest gut-health research reveals prebiotics are even more effective than probiotics in increase of beneficial gut flora.
HOW SHOULD YOU CONSUME BLUEBERRIES?
When the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) analyzed 53 fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S., blueberries ranked 14th on the list of the most pesticide laden—so it puts conventional blueberries on the dirty list for me. Always consume them organic, preferably from a local farmer. If you can’t readily find them, my all-time favorite blueberry is Whole Foods 360 frozen brand. In my opinion, even though they are frozen, they are the sweetest, plumpest blueberries (when defrosted) on the planet. Simply divine.
“I went to see Lindy trying to lower my triglycerides and avoid going on a statin for cholesterol. Lindy was great to work with. Her plan was difficult at first, but was very manageable once I got used to the routine. She also worked with me to customize the plan to make it one with which I could succeed in following. Based upon my results, I definitely consider it a success! My triglycerides went from 696 to 230. I got off my reflux heartburn prescription meds! And, bonus, I lost over 15 pounds (and still counting)! I won’t know until I get more labs done in a month about my cholesterol results. Since this program has become the new normal, I’m optimistic that the results will be great!” —Rick M.
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Lindy Ford, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist in private practice in Wilmington, NC. 910.899.7954 or Email: [email protected]; Website: lindyfordwellness.com
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SIDE BAR TO THIS PIECE:
NC BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL
Burgaw hosts the NC Blueberry Festival every June and welcomes thousands of people to its small farming town—30,000 in fact. More than 100 volunteers help put together more than 20 events over the course of the weekend.
Downtown Burgaw, NC
Free admission; individual prices via vendors
Car show, street fair, blueberry recipe contest, whole hog barbeque cook-off, 5K run, train show, BMX stunt show, special exhibits, and live music and entertainment with The Embers featuring Craig Woolard on Fri., 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., and on Saturday at 1 p.m., Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot; 4:30 p.m., The Catalinas; and 7 p.m., The Entertainers.