This superfood has been shown to improve longevity, enhance muscle function, fight heart disease and support brain function.
Written by Kostiantyn Kharchenko
Eating blueberries is one of the easiest small changes one can make in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
Blueberries may help to lower cholesterol levels, improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity, and lower the risk of subsequent heart disease and diabetes.
One of the significant reasons doctors promote its daily intake is because of the antioxidant property.
Blueberries are delicious and intriguing and help you meet your daily recommended intake of fiber.
Blueberries have been a part of North American food and medicine traditions for centuries. Preserved blueberries were one of the earliest military rations in the US Civil War and other conflicts.
Of the major fruit crops, blueberry has been domesticated most recently, having been accomplished entirely within the 20th century. Thanks to widespread cultivation over greater ranges and advances in agricultural science, today blueberries are widely available basically year-round as well. They can be homegrown or purely cultivated in big farms.
In July 2003 the United States Department of Agriculture proclaimed that July is National Blueberry Month in the USA! Canada also made a Royal Proclamation for Blueberry Month in August.
Blueberries: a powerhouse of antioxidants
Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center ranked blueberries #1 in antioxidant activity.
The antioxidant properties of the flavonoids in the blueberries include:
- Improve memory and concentration and are used to treat attention deficit disorder.
- Are powerful free radical scavengers that can boost the effectiveness of the vitamin C in the antioxidant network.
- Regulates nitric oxide, which is a regulator of blood flow.
- Keeps your heart healthy in three important ways: They prevent blood clots, protect against oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers high blood pressure.
- Reduce inflammation and bolster immune function.
These antioxidants are very effective for fighting with the free radicals of our body, stabilizes them and thus prevents them from doing damage to our body cells.
Free radicals are nothing but the unstabilized ions that get formed during the oxidation of food in our body.
Every day, our cells wage a battle against free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules associated with cancer, heart disease and the effects of ageing. Dietary antioxidants come to the rescue by neutralising the free radicals and helping to prevent cell damage.
Tests show that a diet high in blueberries increases cognitive, neurological and motor functions. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries build a protective coat around the brain to fight signs of aging and deterioration.
Blueberries could improve your mental health and memory.
Foods high in antioxidants, like blueberries, help to fight oxidative stress and benefit neurocognitive functions, especially for older people.
Berries on the brain
The link between blueberries and the brain has grown out of observations that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables over their lifetime have a lower risk of dementia.
Our cognitive function tends to decline as we age, but it’s better preserved when we follow a diet rich in plant-based foods, like blueberries.
Blueberries are more than just a versatile, sweet fruit. They’re a powerful weapon in the battle against age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A study found that one 200-gram blueberry smoothie was enough to increase the ability to concentrate by as much as 20% a day.
Recent research indicates that rather than acting only as antioxidants, the flavonoids in berries interact directly with neurons (brain cells) at the molecular level.
This interaction may initiate “signaling pathways” that enhance connections among neurons, improve cell-to-cell communications and stimulate regeneration of brain cells.
For a clear mind and better focus, studies suggest choosing the tastiest brain food — blueberries.
Feed your brain the good stuff!
Blueberries: Beautiful Skin Superfood for Anti-Aging Skin Care
Beauty comes from the inside. The connection between nutrition and skin condition or rather the effect of nutrition on skin aging has been an interesting research field not only for scientists but also a common field of interest for humans throughout the years, from ancient times to nowadays.
A cup of blueberries daily can reduce the risk of aging effects. The effects may include wrinkles, tired body, greying of hair, reduced vision.
The antioxidants will fight off against any radicals that may call out for aging looks. The skin becomes brighter and glowy all at once just because you included blueberries as water in your diet.
They help in fighting particles that may get inside the skin when exposed to direct UV rays. These harm the nature and tone of skin, making it dull and form more pimples than usual.
They suppress inflammation, which is highly tied to aging, and stabilizes collagen.
Collagen is something that is essential for the skin because it, think of it like a mattress, you’re plumping up the skin, you don’t want it thin and tired, you want it plump and supple.
The blueberry helps to repair the skin cells. Anytime we can do that, we are repairing the damage and thus slowing the aging process.
Blueberry with anthocyanin can help skin to be oxidation-resistant, prevent wrinkles and make skin be more elastic and luster. The anthocyanin not only gives a blue color to the berries but is also involved in making it thick and nutrition-rich.
Blueberries are an anti-inflammatory food
Anthocyanin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties so strong that some researchers compare the effects with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Blueberries rank high up on the list of foods that help calm inflammation.
Inflammation of the body is your immune system’s response to what it considers potentially harmful, such as bacteria, viruses, wounds, or chemicals.
It’s well known that blueberries are an anti-inflammatory food, which goes some way towards explaining why they are so good at helping sore muscles recover.
“A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life.” Dr. Frank Hu
Frank Hu, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Fight inflammation with good sources of food. Eating berries could significantly reduce inflammation.
Therefore, blueberries are able to help maintain and properly regulate our immune systems. This helps fight off outside stress that may cause our bodies to inflame. This stress includes poor diet and lack of sleep.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Blueberries
Antioxidants work everywhere in the body, including the heart.
The high fiber content and abundant antioxidants in blueberries help dissolve the bad cholesterol.
Eating the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries per day for six months improved arterial function and cholesterol levels in adults with metabolic syndrome. (This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02035592.)
The team investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people, aged between 50 and 75, with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that affects about 23 percent of adults and places them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls.
One group ate one cup of blueberries per day, another ate a half cup of blueberries per day, and a third ate a placebo with artificial color and flavoring that was designed to look and taste like blueberries.
The six-month study was the longest trial of its kind.
“We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness – making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 percent,” noted study co-author Dr Peter Curtis.
This makes blueberries an ideal dietary supplement to cure many heart diseases, while also strengthening the cardiac muscles.
“I think we should all include blueberries in our diets on a regular basis” Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist, certified health and wellness coach and certifiable food lover.
It’s widely recognized that lifestyle changes, including making simple changes to food choices, can also help.
How to Store Blueberries
Try to keep your blueberries as dry as possible. Refrigerate blueberries in their original package between 32° and 34°F.
Rinse blueberries gently with cool water just before you’re ready to eat them. Blueberries taste great chilled or at room temperature.
Blueberries retain their maximum amount of nutrients and their maximum taste when they are enjoyed fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe.
That is because their nutrients – including vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes – undergo damage when exposed to temperatures (350°F/175°C and higher) used in baking.
Freezing blueberries has no effect at all on their high nutrient content, and the thawed berries will retain all of their fresh health and nutrition benefits.
When blueberries are plentiful during high season and prices are super affordable – why not freeze your own fresh blueberries so you have them on hand whenever you want?
When freezing blueberries, follow these simple tips:
- Use fresh blueberries that are completely dry when you pop them in the freezer.
- Before you freeze them; simply place them, still in their original containers.
- If you prefer to rinse the blueberries first, dry them well with paper towels, transfer to freezer containers or resealable plastic bags and freeze.
- The blueberries will freeze individually and you can remove just the portion you need.
When they’re in season (June to August), buy enough to freeze for later.
Growing Your Own Fruit!
Who says growing your own blueberries has to be hard?
Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden
Blueberries are becoming increasingly popular with home gardeners due to their delicious and healthy fruit. With their neat, prune-able size habit, they look good, are small enough to fit into any garden, will grow in pots or garden beds and have attractive flowers.
Blueberries are a long-lasting plant that will provide us with nutrition for years.
Blueberry plantings can be established either in the fall (October) or in the spring (March and April).
Purchase healthy, container-grown plants. If available, 1- to 3-year-old plants are a good choice.
The most important rule when planting blueberries is to plant at least three different cultivars to ensure good cross-pollination.
How to plant blueberry bushes
Pick the site. Select a sunny, sheltered spot.They should not be exposed to harsh, drying winds. Full sunlight all day long is essential for maximum production.
Plant with care. Be careful not to plant them too deeply. The root ball should be just below the surface (one-quarter to one-half inch).
Dig holes about 20 inches deep and 18 inches wide.
Space bushes 4–5 feet apart in a row, with at least 8 feet between rows. Prepare a planting mixture of 2 parts loam and one part oak leaf mold, peat moss, aged sawdust, or compost, and place a layer of this mixture in the bottom of the hole.
Set the bush in the hole with the root ball just below the surface and its roots spread out. Pack the hole tightly with soil.
Apply fertilizer one month after planting, not at the time of planting. Apply ½ ounce of a 10-10-10 fertilizer in a band around the plant 6 to 12 inches from the crown.
Water the bush thoroughly, but be careful not to over-water it. Blueberries need about 1 inch of water each week, so during dry spells be sure to water the plants to ensure a good harvest.
Blueberries in the home garden seldom need spraying for insects and disease.
The blueberry is also inherently twiggy and needs proficient pruning annually to keep it looking good and fruitful.
Blueberries travel well, so they are a good snack to take on-the-go, as long as you keep them from being crushed.
No Bake Blueberry Cocoa Seed Bites
These no-bake bites are quick and easy to make. They’re also the perfect snack for an afternoon pick-me-up. Once you start eating these, you won’t be able to stop! Yields: 14 – 16 bites
1 cup (150 g) Blueberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup (75 g) Shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra ¾ cup for coating
½ cup (75 g) Pitted dates, chopped
½ cup (30 g) Unsalted raw sunflower seeds
⅓ cup (25 g) Dried blueberries
⅓ cup (80 ml) Sunflower or nut butter
¼ cup (25 g) Cocoa powder
2 tbsp (25 g) Flax seeds
2 tbsp (25 g) Hemp hearts
1 tbsp (15 ml) Coconut oil or softened butter
2 tsp (10 ml) Lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) Cinnamon
¼ tsp (pinch) Salt
In a food processor fitted with the S blade, pulse all the ingredients (scrape down the sides every few pulses) until combined into a crumbly mixture, but not pureed.
Remove blade and refrigerate for 15 minutes if mixture seems too moist. Moisten fingers with water and form into 1½ ” bite size balls.
Roll in shredded unsweetened coconut to coat.
Making energy bars at home is a cheap, natural, and delicious option. With just 5 ingredients, these squares come together in minutes.
1 1/2 cups nuts (I used 1 1/4 cups walnuts and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)
1 1/2 cups dates
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Mix together until a paste forms, but don’t process the mixture for so long that you can’t see little specs of each ingredient.
Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with wax paper. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cut into 18 squares and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Ready to snack!
Feel free to substitute other nuts and seeds according to your tastes.
Anti-aging Blueberry Smoothie Recipes
Make a delicious anti-aging smoothie!
– 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh, organic)
– 1/2 cup banana (chopped, organic)
– 1/4 cup spinach (fresh, organic)
– 15 grams almonds
– 20 grams coconut flakes
– 1 tsp flax seeds
– 1 tbsp honey organic
– 1 tbsp curd
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
– 1 cup water
Blend this mixture to a smooth paste. Smoothie is ready!
Blueberry Mango Smoothie
3/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
3/4 cup fat-free milk
3/4 cup frozen, unsweetened blueberries
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1 tablespoon honey
Splash vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to a blender. Process until the mixture is completely smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add additional milk. Pour and serve immediately.
Blueberry Corn Salad
This is the best summer salad.
2 ½ cups fresh corn cut off the cob
2 ½ cups fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
6 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a salad bowl add corn kernels, blueberries, chives, and mint. Combine. Circling measuring dishes while you add, mix in vinegar and oil. Lightly toss. Add salt and pepper, toss one final time and serve.
Pick Your Own Blueberry Farms
Picking your own blueberries is one of life’s great treats! The peak season for fresh blueberries continues from Mid-June to Mid-August.
Here are the farms where you can pick your own blueberries.
If you discover another You Pick farm that we don’t know about or you have a You Pick Blueberry farm that you’d like us to list, please get in touch!
Picking your own blueberries is a fun and rewarding experience.
When you lightly comb the branches with your fingers, the ripe berries fall into your hands while the unripe berries stick to the bush.
1.Blueberry Ridge Farm in Sherwood , Oregon. 19711 SW Conzelmann Road Sherwood OR 97140 US
2. Bowerman Blueberries 15793 James Street ,Holland , Michigan 49424
The farm now has more than 90 acres of blueberries and an on-site bakery and farm store.
3. DiMeo Blueberry Farms DiMeo Farms & Nursery. 3101 Nesco Road Hammonton, New Jersey 08037
DiMeo Farms and Blueberry Plants Nursery is a 4th generation NJ family blueberry farm that passionately continues 104 year-old blueberry growing history.
4. Bow Hill Blueberries 15628 Bow Hill Road Bow, Washington 98232
Established in 1947, Bow Hill Blueberries is the site of the oldest family-run blueberry farm in Skagit Valley.
During the harvest, we offer grazing passes so that you can wander the you-pick fields and experience eating the absolute freshest, most nutritious blueberries right off the bush without feeling at-all guilty about it.
5. Cool Springs Blueberry Farm 5975 Smith Mill Rd, Gainesville, Georgia, 30506
The Cool Springs Blueberry Farm is a country oasis nestled on five acres in Gainesville, located in northeast Georgia.
6. The Blueberry Farm – Texas 982 TX-37, Quitman, TX 75783
Picking your own blueberries gives you the absolute freshest fruit possible and you can pick the ripest, most succulent blueberries you can find.
7. Mountainview Blueberry Farm 7617 E. Lowell-Larimer Rd, Snohomish, WA 98296
The farm is nestled down low against a hillside, overlooking surrounding farms framed by the Cascade Mountain Range. On a clear day you can even see Mount Baker to the north.
8. Blueberry Hill Farm 5000 Berry Groves Rd, Clermont, FL 34714
“Our goal at Blueberry Hill is creating memories. It’s about providing a true farm experience for you and your family.”
Wild Blueberries are one of only three berries native to North America. The continent’s earliest inhabitants were first to use the tiny berries, both fresh and dried, for their flavor, nutrition and healing qualities.
In fact, Native North Americans believed the Wild Blueberry had magical powers.
Blueberry is rich in bioactive phytochemicals with a wide range of biological activities and health benefits. However, little is known about their effects on aging. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of supplementation with a blueberry extract (BE) on lifespan and stress resistance using Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) as a model.
Blueberries are an ideal snack for the lunch box because they’re tasty, nutritious – they are an excellent source of vitamin C and are a good source of fiber. Plus, they are fun to eat, and require no peeling or chopping!
The USHBC’s mission is to serve growers and handlers by growing a healthy highbush blueberry industry.
So eat more blueberries, stay healthy and look great.