Blueberries may be small, but this little fruit packs a nutritional punch. Whether fresh or frozen, blueberries protect against heart disease, improve bone health, encourage blood circulation, and help control blood sugar levels. Read below to discover 10 health benefits of blueberries you may not know.
The nutritional rundown
A serving size of blueberries is one cup, which is 148 grams, or anywhere from 65 to 75 berries. According to the USDA, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, one serving of blueberries contains:
- Calories: 84.4
- Protein: 1.1 grams (2% recommended dietary intake [RDI])
- Carbohydrates: 21.4 grams (7% RDI)
- Sugar: 14.7 grams
- Potassium: 114 milligrams (3% RDI)
- Fiber: 3.6 grams (14% RDI)
- Vitamin C: 14.4 milligrams (24% RDI)
- Vitamin B6: 0.77 milligrams (5% RDI)
Blueberries also contain folate, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and manganese! They’re also known for being rich with antioxidants – blueberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which give blueberries many of their health benefits as well as their signature color.
Ten benefits of blueberries
1. Muscle recovery
Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) can increase muscle soreness, reduce muscle strength, and impact overall athletic performance. But athletes can prevent EIMD and reduce their recovery time with diet. Research has shown that blueberries can increase the rate of muscle strength recovery and muscle repair as well as reduce oxidative stress.
2. Increased heart health
As of 2020, heart disease is the top cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Because of their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, blueberries can protect against the artery hardening that raises the risk of heart attack and strokes.
3. Fighting urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common, often chronic, problem for women. The acidity of cranberry juice was previously assumed to treat UTIs, but modern research shows the anti-adhesives in cranberry juice prevent bacteria from infecting the bladder. Blueberries have these same anti-adhesives and can presumably combat UTIs just as effectively, though not as much research has been done on blueberries as cranberries.
4. Disease protection
Oxidative DNA damage is a normal event, occurring tens of thousands of times per day in every cell in the human body. It’s part of the reason we grow older and show signs of aging. Damaged DNA also contributes to the growth of cancer, which occurs when groups of damaged cells replicate quickly and uncontrollably. The high levels of antioxidants in blueberries neutralize some of the free radicals that can damage DNA.
5. Healthy bones
Blueberries contain several minerals and vitamins that contribute to building and maintaining bone health, like iron, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, and vitamin K. Low vitamin K levels have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture, as vitamin K intake improves calcium absorption.
6. Lower blood pressure
Once again, anthocyanins are at play. These phytochemicals improve the function of the endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and help blood flow and the regulation of blood pressure. Researchers even think blueberries may prevent hypertension altogether. While there are several foods you should avoid if you have high blood pressure, blueberries are not one of them.
7. Diabetes management
Blueberries can improve insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Research suggests the anthocyanins in blueberries can help lower blood sugar levels as well.
8. Weight loss and healthy digestion
The relatively high fiber content of blueberries can help prevent constipation and maintain a regular digestive system. Getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet can help you achieve a full feeling, reduce overall caloric intake, and assist in weight-loss efforts.
9. Skin damage prevention
Collagen, which relies on vitamin C to function correctly, is what makes the skin elastic and prevents skin damage from the sun’s UV rays and environmental pollution. One serving of blueberries contains nearly a quarter of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
10. Improved brain function
A 2019 study investigated the relationship between blueberry consumption and cognitive abilities. It found blueberries can “improve delayed memory and cognitive function in children, healthy older adults, and adults with some cognitive impairment.” Another study found blueberries also improve short-term memory. It’s suspected that the flavonoids in blueberries are the key component to these brain benefits.
Eating more blueberries
Because blueberries freeze so well, it’s easy to enjoy this fantastic fruit year-round. Fresh or frozen, blueberries can be easily incorporated into your diet in a number of delicious ways. Here are a few:
Blueberry, Corn, and Chicken Salad with Maple Dressing
Recipe by IIN Grad Brittany Mullins
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 cup corn (fresh, frozen that’s been thawed, or leftover grilled corn cut off the cob)
- 1 large container spring mix or baby greens
- 12 ounces grilled and shredded chicken
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Roast pecans: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Add pecans to sheet and toss with maple syrup and sea salt. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, toss, and allow to cool completely. This step can be done a day in advance.
- Prepare dressing: Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Prep onions: Heat avocado oil over medium heat in medium sauté pan. Add diced onions and cook until translucent and starting to brown (about 7–8 minutes). If using raw or thawed corn, add it to the sauté pan with the onion for extra flavor. If using leftover grilled corn, there’s no need to add here.
- Prep salad: Load salad ingredients on 3–4 plates, starting with a base of greens. Add shredded chicken, corn, onions, blueberries, and maple-roasted pecans. Serve with maple-balsamic dressing, allowing everyone to add as much or as little as they’d like.
- Store any leftover dressing in fridge.
Superfood Bowl with Basil-Avocado Dressing
Recipe by IIN Grad Marissa Vicario
- 1 large handful basil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 ripe avocado
- Juice of half a lemon plus zest
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Water as needed
- 2 cups forbidden rice, prepared according to package instructions
- 1 can black-eyed peas
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 handful arugula
- 1 handful shaved brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
- Add all ingredients to food processor and combine until smooth.
- Add water to thin out as needed.
- Add all ingredients to a bowl, placing heavier ingredients first.
- Toss with dressing.
Blueberry Banana Bread
Recipe by IIN Grad Camila Perez Basso
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 cup whole-grain flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup muscovado sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-1/2 cups ripe banana puree (approximately 3 bananas)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine dry ingredients in bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
- Mix in blueberries.
- Pour mixture into greased loaf pan.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Forever Beautiful Acai Bowl
Recipe by IIN Grad Kristel De Groot
- Place all ingredients in blender. Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Pour into bowl and add toppings of your choice (e.g., fruit, berries, nuts, or shredded coconut).
The bottom line
Blueberries are a superfood that contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals and can be incorporated into your diet in a multitude of ways! They can play a big role in preventing heart disease and regulating blood sugar levels, and best of all, they taste delicious. But everyone’s body is unique and everyone needs different things to live their most healthful lives – so be sure to talk to your doctor about your specific nutritional needs.
The idea that everyone is unique and requires different food and lifestyle practices to help them feel their best is an IIN core concept called bio-individuality. This understanding drives much of what IIN does and how we teach. Health Coaches guide their clients with bio-individuality in mind and work with them to achieve their individual health and wellness goals.