At Squirrel & The Bee, we do our best to use the healthiest ingredients possible; ingredients that have the ability to nourish and heal your body (and of course taste great too). Today we’d like to talk about the power of the almighty blueberry, an essential ingredient in our delicious Blueberry Muffins and our Anti-Oxidant Salad. Blueberries are often defined as a superfood, because they have several incredible medicinal properties that can reduce the risk of many lifestyle-related chronic health conditions.
Benefits of Blueberries:
Rich in Antioxidants – Boost Your Immune System
Blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables [1, 2]. Antioxidants are extremely important because they protect our bodies from cellular and DNA damage by highly unstable molecules called free radicals. As a result, antioxidants boost your immune system, in order to protect you from bacterial and viral infections. Also, flavanoids are a very powerful class of antioxidants found in blueberries that give them their beautiful deep blue color.
Blueberries have moderate sugar content compared to other commonly consumed fruits and are high in fiber. Studies show that high fiber diets in diabetics leads to improved blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels [3, 4]. Additionally, blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are the main flavonoids in blueberries that provide them with their blue pigment. Research has shown that anthocyanins can have anti-diabetic effects by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism [5, 6].
Fight Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are normally caused by the growth of bacteria like E. coli along the inner lining of the urinary tract. Similar to cranberries, blueberries contain anti-adhesive substances that prevent E. coli from binding to the wall of the urinary tract . This prevents bacterial growth and the onset of urinary tract infections . Blueberries have some additional anti-bacterial properties that contribute to this effect, as well.
Improves Heart Health
Blueberries have many positive impacts on heart health. Regular intake of blueberries has been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce total cholesterol and raise HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) [9, 10]. The antioxidants found in blueberries have also been shown to protect LDL molecules from being oxidized or damaged . This is extremely valuable, because LDL oxidation is a crucial step in the formation of plaques and the progression of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, research as shown that regular consumption of anthocyanins (the main antioxidant found in blueberries) is correlated with a 32% lower risk of heart attack in young to middle-aged women.
Reduces Cancer Risk
We are bombarded daily with new foods that may cause cancer, but how about a food that can help reduce the risk? Eat some blueberries! Vitamin C, Vitamin A and anthocyanins are just a few of the powerful antioxidants that help protect cells in the body from free radical damage. They inhibit tumor growth, decrease inflammation in the body and slow the progression of several types of cancers . Phenolic compounds in blueberries like anthocyanins have been shown to inhibit colon cancer cell growth. . Blueberries also contain folate, a compound that plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in DNA .
Improve Memory and Brain Function
Who doesn’t need help here? I know I do! The brain’s aging process can be accelerated by oxidative stress resulting in neurological damage and reduced brain function. Research has shown that the antioxidants found in blueberries accumulate in specific areas of the brain and interact with aging neurons, leading to improved cell signaling . In this way, blueberries act as a neuroprotective agent and have been shown to improve cognitive function, memory and motor coordination [14, 15]. Blueberry consumption is also correlated with reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons’s and Alzheimer’s disease .
Pretty cool, right? Nature is so incredible; it has provided us with so many nutrient -dense, healing foods and we love incorporating them into our baked goods. If you want to get your dose of blueberries, try our Blueberry Muffins – they are awesome… trust us!