It is true that good things come in small packages. It’s an oft-said phrase that applies to a handwritten card, a dazzling diamond ring, my latest Amazon order of Y2K-approved butterfly clips… and the humble blueberry.
In season from April through September, blueberries are a perfect, sweet-tart addition to nearly any food—in your morning smoothie, salad, yogurt, ice cream, or plopped one-by-one into your mouth on their own. (Unless you’re Violet Beauregarde, in which case you’re probably not the biggest blueberry fan.)
On the latest episode of Plant-Based, Rachelle Robinett, a certified herbalist and the founder of Supernatural, breaks down what makes this small-but-mighty fruit so good for you, including how blueberries can help reduce inflammation, promote brain health, boost your mood, and more. As Robinett admits in the episode, it really is hard to list all of the benefits of blueberries, but we can certainly try.
Of course, we just can’t let blueberries steal all of the good-for-you-food show. To learn more fruits with just as many potent health benefits, check out the full episode to discover all five of Robinett’s favorite picks.
What are the nutrients in blueberries?
Here’s a run-down of the vitamins and nutrients you’ll find inside these powerful little berries per a 100-gram serving:
Fiber: 2.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 14.5 grams
Calcium: 6 milligrams
Magnesium: 6 milligrams
Phosphorus: 12 milligrams
Potassium: 77 milligrams
Vitamin C: 9.7 milligrams
Folate: 6 micrograms
Vitamin A: 3 micrograms
The five key health benefits of blueberries (besides delicious flavor)
1. Blueberries are high in the antioxidant anthocyanin
In the episode, Robinett delves into the antioxidant benefits of this powerful fruit. According to her, the anthocyanins (aka one of the antioxidants linked to longevity) found in blueberries are what gives them their bright blue color. Anthocyanins also boast anti-aging properties, as they can help reverse and repair our system from the effects of free-radical damage and oxidation.
2. They promote heart-healthy vascular function
“Blueberries are also fantastic for capillaries and vascular function. So that can translate to treating varicose veins and eye health,” Robinett says. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming one cup of blueberries daily can help cardiovascular health. Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D, the study’s lead researcher and a professor at the University of East Anglia, shared with Well+Good what makes the fruit so good for your heart.
“Blueberries contain powerful bioactive compounds called anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family, and in lab and animal experiments, we know that anthocyanins—responsible for the brilliant red and blue colors in fruits and other plant foods—can reduce inflammation, keep arteries healthy and flexible, improve blood flow, and reduce cholesterol levels,” Dr. Cassidy says.
3. Blueberries can potentially help boost brain health and mood
Although more research needs to be done to understand the connection between blueberries and brain health, the previously mentioned study also showed that when participants took a blueberry supplement for four months, it increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for memory, a promising indicator. In the episode, Robinett also delves into the potential neuroprotective benefits of blueberries that might have the capacity to boost brain health and mood.
4. They’re filled with prebiotic fiber
Of course, by now we’ve all heard that a balanced gut microbiome can boost your mood, immunity, cognitive functioning, and more. So, it may be no surprise to hear that blueberries (we lysm!) are also filled with tons of fiber that helps achieve a well-balanced and very happy gut microbiome. Score!
“Fibers in the starch that the good bacteria in our gut love to flourish and be healthy. So, they’re helping to support gut balance and microbiome well-being,” Robinett says. She also explains that this type of fiber can also help inhibit the bad bacteria from growing in your system, which can disrupt the balance. Sounds like a win-win to me.
5. They can help reduce inflammation and allergic reactions
Now, this benefit of blueberries may come to you as a surprise (in the best way possible). According to Robinett, this berry can help with allergic reactions by inhibiting the overproduction of histamines and helping stabilize white blood cells that respond to things we’re allergic to. Blueberries are packed with the polyphenol quercetin that research shows can help with anti-allergic properties characterized by stimulation of the immune system, antiviral activity, inhibition of histamine release, and decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines.