The Bonus of Blueberries

9254525480_2074aa6e42_zEvery summer, blueberries become available throughout the country. They are native to North America and have been around for thousands of years. They’re not only good for blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes, but for many other uses as well.

Native Americans ate blueberries as food, pounded into dried meat to make pemmican for long journeys. They also used blueberries as a source of medicine. Aviators in the UK during WWII were found to have sharper eyesight after eating bilberry jam (a cousin to the blueberry) every morning for breakfast.

Not only are blueberries tasty and good for your eyes, they offer significant other benefits as well. We’re avoiding the use of the term “super food” but if we weren’t, blueberries would be high on that list.

Cancer. Most foods that are naturally blue or purple have an antioxidant called anthocyanins. These chemicals have some serious cancer-fighting power. In studies involving mice, cancer, and blueberries, the animals who were given blueberries were able fight off both prostate and liver cancer.

Bladder Health. Like cranberries, blueberries have a compound in them that prevent bacteria in the bladder from multiplying. Further, it keeps the bacteria from being able to attach to the wall of the bladder. They are especially effective against E. coli, which is often the culprit when it comes to bladder or urinary tract infections. The next time you have a UTI and are reluctant to pour one more glass of cranberry juice, stock up on some blueberries.

Brain Booster. Another compound in blueberries is the antioxidant called flavonoids. A recent study discovered that women who ate the most blueberries managed to stave off any mental decline as they aged by as much as two and a half years. To keep that memory going, munch on blueberries.

Artery Cleaner.

When our arteries become inflamed, they begin to collect material inside, becoming narrower, providing the potential for a full blockage that could result in a heart attack. Blueberries are excellent anti-inflammatories and one study demonstrated that they can reduce the production of the proteins that promote arterial inflammation. Of special note to women, eating more blueberries reduces their chance of a heart attack by as much as thirty percent.

Improved Digestion. Move over probiotics, here come blueberries. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shared that a group of men had a wild blueberry drink every day for six weeks. There was a significant increase in the good bacteria that promotes better digestion and overall improved gut health. When your digestion works well, you generally enjoy improved health.

Enjoy your blueberries as an addition to muffins and pancakes, but branch out. Eat them alone, in smoothies, in salads, in meat stews. They don’t have to be included in a dessert to be enjoyed.

Photo Credit :
Reward for work: Blueberries
from @rsseattle via Flickr