Not too long ago, my mom served a wonderful salad with a healthy dose of blueberries . It was unexpected. Sure, I’ve had and love fruit in my salad…but I’ve never had blueberries, specifically, as a salad ingredient. The recipe is pretty easy, and I’ve found myself replicating it several times throughout the summer for dinner parties.
At this time of year, especially, blueberries are in season. And when they are in season, they are that much sweeter. Beyond taste, however, they offer up a ton of nutritional and health benefits:
Antioxidants Powerhouse: In a study at Tufts University, 60 fruits and vegetables were analyzed for their antioxidant factor. Blueberries won in its ability to destroy free radicals . Specifically, blueberries contain anthocyanidins, which help fight multiple health issues, including cataracts, hemorrhoids, ulcers, and cancer.
Digestive Defense: Because they are high in fiber, blueberries help keep your digestive tract regular, relieving symptoms of both diarrhea and constipation. In addition to soluble and insoluble fiber, blueberries contain tannins, help reduce inflammation. Blueberries also promote urinary tract health by reducing E. coli’s ability to adhere and flourish in your urinary tract.
Cancer Fighter: In addition to powerful anthocyanins, blueberries contain ellagic acid, which protect against cancer. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that phenolic compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer, and its high content of kaempferol, a flavonoid, can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Healthy Heart: First, blueberries’ high fiber content contributes to lowering cholesterol. And second, their high amount of anthocyanidins makes them even a better choice than red wine as a heart-healthy beverage. (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published a study that touts blueberries as delivering 38% more of these compounds than wine)
Smart Food: Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may help to reduce symptoms of age-related disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Blueberry season ends in October, so this is a great time to add blueberries into your favorite recipes. When blueberries are out of season, frozen is still a good way to keep them in your diet.
Do you eat blueberries? Any good recipes you’d like to share?
Laboratory studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry show that phenolic compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Extracts were made of the blueberry phenols, which were freeze-dried and further separated into phenolic acids, tannins, flavonols, and anthocyanins. Then the dried extracts and fractions were added to cell cultures containing two colon cancer cell lines, HT-29 and Caco-2.
In concentrations normally found in laboratory animal plasma after eating blueberries, anthyocyanin fractions increased DNA fragmentation (a sign that apoptosis or cell death had been triggered) by 2-7 times. Flavonol and tannin fractions cut cell proliferation in half at concentrations of 70-100 and 50-100 microg/mL, while the phenolic fraction was also effective, but less potent, reducing proliferation by half at concentrations of 1000 microg/mL. Bottomline: eating blueberries may reduce colon cancer risk.