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Blueberries are healthy and super-sweet – we all know that, right? Plus, they make a killer pie. But it turns out, these summer favorites are actually a superfruit, packed with antioxidants that may fight disease and help with brain health. Read on to learn why this fruit easily earns the title of “super.”
Why They're Super
At 84 calories per cup, a serving of berries contains 14 percent of the suggested daily fiber and 24 percent of the suggested daily intake of Vitamin C. But it gets better. Research suggests blueberries deliver some even-more-powerful and long-lasting health benefits. One study found that consuming a cup of blueberries per week can lower blood pressure and, perhaps, speed up metabolism, due mostly to their high levels of anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant). Another study suggests blueberries can lower levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol), potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Blueberries may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
So, adding some baby blues to a fruit salad may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer — great news for your body. But what about your brain? Blueberries have that covered, too. Psychiatrists at the University of Cincinnati found that wild-blueberry juice enhanced memory and learning function in older adults while reducing blood sugar and decreasing symptoms of depression. Because of these findings, some researchers suggest blueberries could potentially fight more serious memory problems like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's (though more research is needed). The most recent research on this tiny superfood backs up that claim. Using a food-frequency questionnaire, scientists have been able to link a higher intake of flavonoids, particularly from berries, to reduced rates of cognitive decline in the elderly.
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Feeling Blue? Your Action Plan
For the freshest in-season blueberries, buy or pick your own from May to October. Craving these blue babies out of season? Most grocery stores sell them all year long, though these varieties tend to be more expensive (and come from farther away). Don’t forget about dried and frozen alternatives, perfect for smoothies and baked goods anytime of the year.
Is there such thing as eating too many blueberries? They do have a relatively high-sugar content (especially in dried form), but when sticking to the suggested serving size of one cup of fresh berries, that’s nothing to worry about.
Blueberries are great washed and eaten by the handful, but don’t be afraid to be creative with these itty-bitty fruits. Toss ‘em in a yogurt parfait, add to whole-grain waffles topped with banana, cinnamon, and nut butter, or try them in a smoothie.
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What's your favorite way to eat blueberries? Share in the comments below!