Five Health Benefits Of Wild Blueberries

From brain-boosting to disease-fighting, the experts at Wild Blueberry Association of North America explain how the benefits of these little fruitful treasures endure long after other food fads fade.

By Jennifer Van Allen

The Wild Blueberry’s taste and hue have made it a favorite of chefs and foodies alike. But it’s the brain-boosting, disease-fighting benefits that give Wild Blueberries an appeal that endures long after other food fads fade.

Because Wild Blueberries are so highly-concentrated with good-for-you nutrients, it’s easy to consume them in quantities that are high enough to have a health impact, said said Kit Broihier, MS, RD, nutrition advisor to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America.

“Not all of the top foods in phenolic content are easy to consume in amounts considered biologically relevant—without adding sugar or processing them in ways that may impact their nutrients in some way,” said Broihier.

By contrast, “it’s not difficult to consume a cup of Wild Blueberries per day—one smoothie and a sprinkling on cereal would do it—and there’s no need to add sugar or any other ingredients to make them palatable.”

Five other reasons why Wild Blueberries are a nutrition powerhouse

Wild Blueberries are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the body against inflammation, which is thought to be a leading factor in brain aging, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative diseases. And just one cup of Wild Blueberries has more total antioxidant capacity (TAC) than 20 other fruits and veggies, including cranberries, strawberries, and cultivated blueberries. But even more importantly, said Broihier, Wild Blueberries are among the highest in cellular antioxidant activity, which is a more relevant measure of the potential health impact in the body than just the amount of antioxidants contained in the fruit.

Woman blueberry smoothieWild Blueberries can help keep your heart healthy. With six grams of fiber per cup, Wild Blueberries can help you get the 28 grams of fiber per day that’s recommended to help improve cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the polyphenols that are abundant in Wild Blueberries have been linked to improved endothelial function, a predictor of the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the September 2013 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Wild Blueberries help boost brain function. Mounting research is showing that Wild Blueberries can aid cognitive function in kids and older adults.  A study published in the October 2017  issue of Food & Function concluded that in school-age kids, consuming Wild Blueberries may enhance executive function—the mental skills that help them pay attention, manage time, and complete tasks. This built on research published in the October 2015 issue of  European Journal of Nutrition, which showed that Wild Blueberries boosted memory and concentration in school-age kids. And it’s not just kids that benefit. A growing body of research, including that presented at the 2016 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), concluded that Blueberries appear to  help improve memory and cognitive function in older adults. 

Wild Blueberries may improve mood. Studies show that Wild Blueberries can lift kids’ spirits. A study published in the February 2017 issue of Nutrients concluded that consuming Wild Blueberries may significantly boost mood in both young adults (ages 18 to 21) and children (ages 7 to 10). That’s important, as depression that occurs in adolescence or early adulthood is more likely to reemerge. “Therefore, impact of flavonoids on positive mood in children and young adults could reduce their risk of depression in adolescence and later in life,” said study co-author Shirley Reynolds, Professor of Evidence Based Psychological Therapies at the University of Reading.

Wild Blueberries may help reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Studies show that a diet containing Wild Blueberries can positively impact certain characteristics of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What’s more, Wild Blueberries won’t wreak havoc with blood sugar levels. Wild Blueberries naturally have 30% less sugar than cultivated varieties—with just 10 grams of sugar per cup. And Wild Blueberries are a low-glycemic food—they have a score of 53 on the 100-point Glycemic Index. Foods that are lower on the Glycemic Index don’t cause rapid or large spikes in blood sugar, and may be beneficial for those following a special diet for diabetes.

Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by Wild Blueberry Association of North America. To learn more about the health benefits of Wild Blueberries, visit https://www.wildblueberries.com/health-research

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