Thursday 4 July 2024

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Blueberries Every Day

 Do you ever wonder about the health impact of those tiny blue bursts of flavor you sprinkle on your cereal or toss into your smoothies? Blueberries are touted for their many health benefits—no surprise, considering they pack a ton of vitamins and minerals and more antioxidants than any other fruit, according to a 2021 study published in Molecules

But what happens to your body when you eat blueberries daily? Is there a downside to eating too much? Let’s uncover blueberries’ nutritional value, potential health benefits and drawbacks of daily consumption, and how you can enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

You May Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Disease 

Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanins, which are known to help reduce the risk of chronic disease. According to a 2020 review in Advances in Nutrition, these compounds combat oxidative stress and inflammation—two significant factors in developing chronic disease.

Brittany Lubeck, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition writer, confirms by telling EatingWell, “Consumption of blueberries may help reduce the risk of certain diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cognitive decline. This is thought to be due to the presence of anthocyanins (which are powerful pigments and antioxidants) in blueberries.”

You May Have Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

The powerful plant compounds in blueberries may reduce blood pressure, too. A 2023 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when participants ate the equivalent of about 3/4 cup of blueberries a day, their blood pressure lowered.

The fiber in blueberries may contribute to reducing cholesterol levels, too. A 2020 review in Advances in Nutrition suggests that blueberries' powerful plant compounds may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL (beneficial) cholesterol. This same review notes studies that report a reduction in arterial stiffness with regular blueberry consumption, which reduces blood pressure.

You May Have Better Cognitive Function

In the previously mentioned study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers noted that cognitive function also improved when participants ate about 3/4 cup of blueberries a day. When your blood vessels are relaxed and not constricted, it allows for more blood flow to your brain. This helps you think better. The antioxidants in blueberries play a role in this as well.

You May Recover From Your Workout More Quickly

When you exercise vigorously, there is a temporary increase in inflammation. This is in part because you're breaking down muscle tissue while working out—almost like an injury to the muscle. But blueberries may help with that.

A 2023 study in Scientific Reports found that when adults who were not accustomed to working out performed 90-minute workouts and also ate a cup of blueberries a day for 18 days, they exhibited reduced pro-inflammatory compounds compared to those who did not eat the blueberries.

You May Improve Your Vision

Blueberries deliver vitamins C and A, which are needed to maintain good vision and potentially reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, per a 2019 review in Antioxidants.

Lubeck adds, “Blueberries are high in flavonoids, which have been associated with a lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.”

You May Have Better Digestion

Blueberries are a good source of fiber, an essential nutrient that can promote regularity, prevent constipation and maintain a healthy gut. “A fiber-rich diet has been associated with better overall metabolic and digestive health,” says Lubeck.

You May Improve Your Skin Health

Blueberries ' antioxidants, like vitamin A and retinol, protect your skin from premature aging by fighting free radicals. They can also boost collagen production, resulting in smoother, firmer skin, per a 2023 review in Antioxidants.

“Consuming blueberries (either through food or supplements) may benefit aging skin,” says Lubeck. “The antioxidants in blueberries combat free radicals that may damage skin and increase the rate of aging.”

You May Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the driver of most chronic diseases. Fortunately, blueberries are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds that help combat this underlying cause of health problems, per a 2021 review in Nutrients

“Blueberries have more polyphenols than any other berry,” says Lubeck. “Polyphenols are phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. Various studies have found that blueberries may reduce obesity-induced inflammation, which could improve overall metabolic health.”

You May Get Fewer Infections

A 2021 review published in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN pointed out that the polyphenols found in blueberries—anthocyanins, flavonoids and phenolic acids—have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help prevent and fend off viral infections.

“The anthocyanins in blueberries may be used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. Research shows that anthocyanins extracted from blueberries inhibit urinary tract infection (UTI) strains of bacteria. These antioxidants can fight off bacteria that could lead to a UTI,” explains Lubeck.

You May Have More Stable Blood Sugar

The fiber and polyphenols in blueberries may also help manage blood sugar, per a 2023 review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry . This is in part because anthocyanins—the plant compounds that give blueberries their deep blue hue—have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. This allows your cells to take up glucose more readily from the blood to use as energy, so your pancreas doesn't have to release as much insulin.

Blueberries are also considered a low-glycemic food, ranking around 53 on the glycemic index (GI) scale. This means they won't spike your blood sugar like something that ranks higher on the GI scale would.

Blueberries Nutrition Facts

Blueberries are nature's bite-sized deliciousness packed with nutritional benefits, boasting many vitamins and antioxidants. One cup of blueberries (150 grams) contains the following, per the USDA:

  • Calories: 86
  • Total Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4 g
  • Total Sugars: 15 g 
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Potassium: 116 mg
  • Vitamin C: 15 mg
  • Vitamin K: 29 µg
  • Vitamin A: 5 µg 

Are Blueberries Safe for Everyone to Eat?

While it’s clear that blueberries make a healthy addition to any diet, they might not be suitable for those with sensitivities or allergies. Blueberries contain salicylates, natural chemicals found in aspirin and many fruits and vegetables, per a 2022 study in Frontiers in Plant Science. These chemicals may cause issues for those with salicylate sensitivity. 

According to StatPearls, if you have a salicylate sensitivity, you may experience adverse reactions like headaches, digestive issues or skin problems after consuming salicylate-containing foods.

5 Ways to Enjoy Blueberries

“While grabbing a handful of fresh blueberries is easy, there are plenty of other ways to eat more blueberries,” says Lubeck.

Top Cereal, Oatmeal or Yogurt

One of the simplest and tastiest ways to enjoy blueberries is by sprinkling them over your morning cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. Their natural sweetness complements these breakfast staples perfectly while delivering a healthy dose of antioxidants and essential nutrients. Try our Breakfast Blueberry-Oatmeal Cakes for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.

Add to Smoothies

Toss a handful of blueberries into a blender with your favorite fruits, yogurt or greens. They enhance the flavor and give your smoothie a nutritional boost. The natural sweetness of blueberries helps reduce the need for added sugars in your blends.  

Include in Baked Goods

Blueberries can elevate the taste and nutrition of your baked goods. Muffins, pancakes and even bread benefit from blueberries’ nutritional profile. Next time you’re craving muffins, make these Low-Carb Blueberry Muffins instead of going the store-bought route.

Use in Homemade Jam

Making homemade blueberry jam is a fantastic way to enjoy the goodness of blueberries all year round. You can control the ingredients and sugar content, ensuring a healthier spread for your toast, pancakes or sandwiches. For inspiration, give our Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Blueberry-Balsamic Jam a whirl and try to tell us you don’t love it.

Add to Fresh Salads

Sprinkle blueberries over fresh salads to combine sweetness with tangy dressings and crisp greens. Blueberries work well with various salad ingredients, like feta cheese, nuts and vinaigrettes, creating a delicious balance of flavors and textures. If you’re looking for a recipe, try our Summer Blueberry Salad With Toasted Pecans & Feta. You won’t regret it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many blueberries can you eat a day?

Generally, adding a 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to your daily diet is a healthy and reasonable amount. Even 1/3 cup a day has been associated with a reduced disease risk. This amount provides a substantial dose of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.

Can you eat too many blueberries?

While blueberries are an amazing fruit, like anything, too much of a good thing is still too much. Eating more than a cup at once may result in some gastrointestinal distress. It may also spike your blood sugar.

Do blueberries detox your body?

Blueberries are not a magical detoxifier but offer certain health benefits. They’re rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which can help protect your cells from oxidative damage.

Are blueberries good for body fat?

Blueberries are low in calories and packed with fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Additionally, the antioxidants in blueberries support overall health, which can help maintain a healthy body weight. However, diet and lifestyle factors, such as overall calorie intake and physical activity, play a more significant role in managing body fat than any single food.

The Bottom Line

Blueberries can be excellent for your health due to their rich nutritional content, including vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. They may reduce chronic disease risk, improve vision, enhance digestion and support overall health. Additionally, blueberries' antioxidants can help protect your skin from premature aging and reduce your risk of chronic diseases by helping tame chronic inflammation. However, if you have salicylate sensitivities, blueberries may cause adverse reactions. 

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