Nutritionists have classified a handful of foods as "Superfoods", and the blueberry is one of them. While many superfoods are found in exotic places, such as deep in a rain forest, high on mountain range or on a remote island, the blueberry is native to North America and can be found growing wild from as far south as Florida to as far north as Quebec.
Blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients, including Vitamin C and K as well as Manganese and Iron. However, what makes blueberries a Superfood is that they have among the highest antioxidants capacities of all produce. And while the research into all the benefits of antioxidants are still in its infancy, studies have linked blueberries to the following:
- Increased Memory
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of Dementia
- Free Radical Reduction (which has been linked to reducing the risk of some forms of cancer)
- Reduced Blood Pressure
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease
- Improved Motor Function in the Elderly
- Improved Digestion
- Killing Cancer Cells
- Tumor Size Reduction
Further, the anthocyanins, which give blueberries its color, have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Going a step further, research with rats who ate blueberries for two months showed improvements in working memory and did better than their peers at remembering how to navigate a water maze. They became better at balancing on a narrow rod and walking on a rotating rod. And lest these findings be dismissed as a coincidence, researchers even cut open the heads of the rats and saw blueberry pigments in their brains. The blue anthocyanins—among the plant chemicals widely attributed with health benefits due to antioxidant properties—were scattered throughout the cerebellum, cortex, hippocampus, and striatum of berry-fed rats.
Human studies showed that blueberries lowered blood pressure after eight weeks of daily ingestion. Kids were found to do better on cognitive tests after eating blueberries. In small trials, people who drank blueberry juice reported reduced depressive symptoms and were found to have improved blood-sugar levels and improvements in recalling words. Older adults who ate two daily cups of blueberries reportedly saw improvements in mobility. A recent study by Dr Yujiang Fang of the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia discovered that adding blueberry extract to radiation therapy for cervical cancer patients significantly improved treatment efficacy.
Blueberries rank highest on the ORAC test, or oxygen-radical absorbance capacity test, which measures the levels of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Blueberries even scored higher on the test than pomegranate or acai. Interestingly enough, blueberries do a whole lot more than just anti-oxidation. They are also anti-inflammatory, have direct effects on the brain, including plasticity and neuronal communication and neurogenesis. They’re even involved in the formation of new neurons.
The nutritional benefits are so significant that some experts believe that if you make only one change to your diet, it should be to add America's superfood, blueberries, to your daily eating habits.