Despite their size, blueberries pack a serious punch. Besides the obvious fact that they are delicious, and choc-full of vitamins, they have been found to carry some powerful health benefits as well. Although many healthy foods are often a little difficult to swallow, blueberries are a great option for boosting the amount of vitamins and minerals in your normal diet. Because, let’s face it, children might not always enjoy kale, but they definitely love blueberries.
Blueberries originated in North America, and were traditionally used by indigenous cultures as an important food source. They were preserved and used all winter long to provide vital vitamin C – important in a land where during the cold months of the year there were nearly no other sources of vitamin C. They have only been recently developed for widespread cultivation and these days blueberries have come a long way from being selectively foraged. They are now farmed on an industrial scale, with almost 670 million pounds produced in North America alone in 2014.
People love these berries for many reasons. They remind us of summer, make a great addition to many desserts, are a quick and delicious snack option, and are a great way to get children to eat healthy foods. There are likely many health benefits of blueberries that maybe you weren’t aware of, and these benefits just might make you start to include blueberries into your diet on a daily basis. There is also a delicious recipe below for a maple blueberry breakfast pudding, which means there are no more excuses for avoiding blueberries in your morning meal.
Targets Belly Fat
Looking to lose a little weight? Blueberries have shown to be of great benefit when combined with exercise and a healthy diet. At the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, researchers used blueberry powder as a dietary supplement for lab rats. Over the course of the study, one set of obese rats was fed a low fat diet, while the other was given a high fat diet. In both cases, the blueberry powder reduced their abdominal circumference, insulin sensitivity, lowered their cholesterol and their triglycerides. When the researchers looked at the results for the low-fat group of obese rats, the changes were even more drastic. This suggests that blueberries could potentially offer a powerful boost for reducing belly fat, especially when combined with exercise and a low-fat diet.
High in Antioxidants
Although small, blueberries have the highest antioxidant content out of all fresh fruits. This is due to the fact that they contain high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and something called Anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is responsible for the dark blue colour of blueberries, and is found in other dark purple, red and blue fruits, although not in as high amounts. Blueberries also contain tons of minerals that are hard to get in other foods, such as copper, iron, zinc, and selenium. All these combined, help kill off free radicals which naturally accumulate within your body as you age. Free radicals, who are responsible for the aging process, can also eventually cause disease. This mixture of antioxidants gives your immune system a powerful boost to fight off a myriad of common illnesses.
Don’t leave the health of your eyesight to carrots alone, blueberries can also help maintain healthy eyes. Clinically proven, blueberry extract can slow down vision damage. This is due to the fact that they contain something called anthocyanosides, on top of all the other antioxidant goodness they carry. These substances help reduce the risk of age related eye issues such as hypermetropia, cataracts, myopia and macular degeneration. So, stock up on these tiny little berries, before your eyes can’t see them anymore!
Constipation and Digestion
If you suffer from digestive issues, such as irregular bowel movements, constipation, gas and bloating, blueberries can help smooth out the process from start to finish. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, including upping the number of blueberries you consume, is the first method to combat a problematic digestive tract. Blueberries are high in fiber, which is also a key dietary component to eliminate constipation.
Through the series of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants covered above, blueberries are also able to promote brain health. The compounds in blueberries help to heal damaged brain cells, reverse neuronal damage, and reduce the risk for degenerative diseases. When diets high in blueberries were given to aging lab animals, these animals saw improved learning as well as increased motor skills when compared to their peers who were not on the blueberry diet. Blueberries seemed to reverse the aging process in the brain to a certain extent.
Maple Blueberry Chia Breakfast Pudding
A great way to wake up every morning, and an excellent way to incorporate blueberries into your daily diet. It’s really easy to double, or quadruple the recipe and it will store in the refrigerator well. Why not make up a big batch for the family, and give everyone a head start for the busy week ahead?
- 1 ½ Cups of Coconut Milk (or other organic non-dairy milk)
- 1 Cup Blueberries
- 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- 1 Tsp Vanilla powder
- ½ Cup Chia Seeds (black, white or mix)
Blend the first four ingredients in a blender until pureed together. In a small bowl, combine mixture with chia seeds. Pour into mason jars, and put the lid on. It will take six hours at least for the chia seeds to hydrate. Optionally, add a sprinkle of granola before eating.
Makes 4 servings.