Are you growing blueberries? If so, walk out to your garden and pick a cup to snack on. Guess what you just did? You gave yourself a boost of antioxidants. In fact, they have the highest concentration of antioxidants of any of the common fruits that people eat around the world. But how do the antioxidants help your body? Here are five ways that snacking on blueberries can benefit your health.
Reduced Cancer Risk
The body needs a variety of antioxidants to combat the damaging effects of free radicals. Blueberries are particularly high in a group of flavonoids known as anthocyanins, which are known to interact with the oxygen radical that causes damage to your DNA. Reducing this has many benefits to the body, including improved skin health and anti-aging qualities. Perhaps most significantly, it considerably decreases the risk of many types of cancer, such as that found in the breast, colon or on the skin.
Help Prevent Heart Disease
Blueberries are an excellent source of nutrition to help ward off the risks of developing many types of cardiovascular disease. The plaque that forms on the inside of the arteries is caused by the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (commonly known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) by free radicals. This narrowing of the arteries can result in life-threatening issues such as heart attack or stroke. The antioxidants in blueberries are particularly useful in not only preventing this buildup, but also removing the deposit once it has developed.
Increased Brain Function
Free radicals affect all parts of the body, and the brain is no exception. The antioxidants that are present in blueberries are understood to congregate around the centers of the brain linked to intelligence. Research suggests that regularly consuming blueberries directly improves cognitive ability, while also reducing the rate of age-related mental difficulties.
Prevent Urinary Infections
Like the closely related cranberry, blueberries are also excellent at preventing urinary tract infections. Both berries contain compounds called anti-adhesives, which act by preventing bacteria collecting on the bladder wall. This stops the buildup of any unwanted bacteria in the urinary tract and prevents infection.
Reduce Diabetic Effects
Like all fruits, blueberries contain a relatively high level of sugar compared to other food types. However, the benefits of blueberries seem to outweigh any negative effects this sugar brings about in people with diabetes. The anthocyanins within blueberries are known to have a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which aids both people with diabetes, and those at risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
As well as these benefits, blueberries also contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients that help keep your body in top shape. However, like all healthy options, the key is incorporating them into a balanced diet and not assuming that the handful of blueberries at breakfast means you can get away with a fast food dinner. Nevertheless, alongside other nutritious foods, and coupled with a regular exercise routine, blueberries can have a positive impact on your health.