At a glance
• A Prediction Comes True
Nearly 2 years ago, we predicted blueberries would become the “next big thing” in healthy aging nutrition. And not to pat our own backs, but we were right.
Sure, blueberries are enjoyed as snack by millions of people every day. In fact, they are the second-most popular berry in the United States. People blend them up in fruit smoothies, add them to desserts, pop a handful on top of their breakfast cereal, incorporate them into a healthy fruit salad, and enjoy them right out of the package.
And while people "know" that blueberries are healthy, and might even be aware they are good for their heart, many do not know just how vast the benefits of blueberries are.
That is why we’ve reopened the discussion on the blueberry. From its role in healthy aging to how it supports brain health, the blueberry has shown time and again why it should be a daily staple in your nutritional journey.
A Berry on The Rise in Healthy Aging Nutrition
In the aforementioned previous article, 4 Reasons Why Blueberries Are a Game Changer, we posited that blueberries would be the “next best thing” in healthy aging nutrition. Now, this prediction wasn’t just thrown out there on a whim. Rather, we sifted through data including recent scientific evidence and articles from accredited sources — like this timeline from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
And though the popularity of blueberries has seemingly risen each year, this timeline notes that their “favorite boost of blue” isn’t new. Blueberries are native to North America and have been part of life here for 13,000 years. The blueberry council notes that the first highbush blueberry bush was successfully cultivated for commercial use in the early 1900s. Today, they grow about 1 billion pounds of blueberries in North America each year!
But with the history of blueberries in mind, we turn our focus to the 2000s to the present, where an array of scientific research has steadily connected blueberries to multiple health benefits for our cardiovascular system, brain, gut, and more.
And in recent years, blueberries were certified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association and even received its own emoji on smartphones around the world. 2020 was even dubbed the “Year of The Blueberry!”
It is easy to see why blueberries have grown in popularity in recent years. The hype around this delicious berry is warranted — and the benefits of this health-filled berry are backed by science. When we combine those two factors, there’s no telling just how far blueberries can go!
What The Science Says
In our 2020 blog, we covered multiple studies that backed our prediction. Here’s a quick recap of some scientific findings that fortify the blueberry’s title as the “next best thing:”
Gut Health – the GI Society, a division of Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, states that dietary fiber can help control blood sugar (glucose) levels, avoid constipation, reduce some symptoms of IBS, and maintain a healthy body weight. 1 cup (148 g) of blueberries provides 3.6 g of fiber.
High in Essential Nutrients, Low in Calories – Blueberries contain 4 essential nutrients — fiber to help you stay regular, Vitamin C to support your immune system, Vitamin K for bone metabolism, and manganese to convert proteins, carbs, and fats into energy. And the best part is, blueberries contain just 80 calories per serving.
Wild, High-Latitude Organic Blueberries Are Supercharged with Antioxidants – Our bodies require antioxidant protection against free radicals. And though multiple fruits contain antioxidants, research shows wild berries grown in the high latitudes of North America possess extraordinarily high antioxidant levels.
Blueberries as a Brain Booster
According to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University, blueberries are also a nutritional brain-booster that may help improve your memory. Berries are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavonoids — which are a group of phytonutrients found in most fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids give blueberries antioxidant effects that protect the cells and tissue in our body from damage caused by free radicals.
Recent studies have shown that anthocyanins, an important type of flavonoid, can protect our brain cells from aging and improve our memory.
Neural Regeneration Research is a scientific journal that reports clinical research in the international field of neuro-regeneration. The journal compiled the findings from multiple clinical studies into one comprehensive report that analyzed the neuroprotective effects of blueberries. The report rightfully asserted that based on the evidence, berries “improve motor and cognitive functions.” The scientific writers went on to say, “The berry fruits are also capable of modulating signaling pathways involved in inflammation, cell survival, neurotransmission and enhancing neuroplasticity” — which are all factors in healthy brain aging.
A separate study zeroed in on blueberries specifically, and discovered that concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people:
- Healthy people aged 65-77 who drank concentrated blueberry juice daily showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain, and other activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests.
- 12 of 26 healthy adults were given concentrated blueberry juice (230 g of blueberries); the remaining 14 received placebo. Those who drank blueberry juice showed significant increases in brain activity compared to the placebo group
- Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, stated, “In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30 ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and soke aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.”
Keep Tabs on This Powerful Berry!
Like millions of others, you’ve probably enjoyed a blueberry or two. Some prefer to eat them as they are, others add them to fruit salad, yogurt, smoothies, and other delicious and nutritious snacks. But blueberries are more than just a trendy and tasty fruit! They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are linked to benefiting multiple areas of our health – and those benefits are backed by scientific evidence. This solidifies the berry’s already stellar reputation as a highly nutritious, and of course, delicious, snack option.
And though we’ve covered all things blueberry, there’s still more research to be done — so be sure to follow the news on blueberries closely!