Blueberry, whose scientific name is bilberry, belongs to the Rhododendron family. Blueberries are considered a "superfruit" due to their rich polyphenolic compounds, which may have antioxidant capabilities and are sometimes exploited for their health-promoting properties. Global distributors of blueberries are the United States, Canada, China and Chile.
Blueberries have different common names depending on their species, namely highbush, lowbush, rabbiteye and huckleberry. Low-bush blueberry varieties (Vaccinium angustifolum) are mostly edible.
Nutritional value of blueberries:
Blueberries contain a variety of functional ingredients that are beneficial to human health.
|Total lipids (fat)
|Sugar (total sugar)
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Characteristics of blueberries:
The beneficial properties of blueberries are:
- it can act as an antioxidant
- it may have anticancer activity
- It may have the ability to maintain weight
- It may have blood sugar-lowering effects
- It may have cholesterol-lowering effects
- It may have activity in maintaining blood pressure
- it may have antibacterial activity
- it may have anti-inflammatory effects
- it may benefit liver health
- May enhance immunity
- it may benefit brain health
- It may benefit lung health.
Potential uses for blueberries:
Potential uses of blueberries in blood sugar
Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, which may have antioxidant activity. It may be beneficial in reducing oxidative stress and may play a crucial role in blood sugar management—elevated blood sugar levels characterized by poor response to insulin stimulation. Anthocyanin-rich blueberries may reduce glucose intolerance.
A cross-sectional study of women by Jennings et al. Research shows that eating more blueberries can improve insulin resistance. Therefore, it may be beneficial in managing blood sugar levels in humans.
However, this research is not sufficient. Therefore, more research is needed to develop the positive effects of blueberries on blood sugar management.
Potential use of blueberries to treat cancer
Blueberries may help reduce the spread of cancer cells and enhance cancer cell death. It also minimizes the chances of cancer developing and the risk of cancer coming back. But the actual mechanism is unclear. A laboratory study suggests that lowbush blueberries, which are composed of proanthocyanidins (antioxidants), may have the ability to kill cancer cells in human colon cancer cell lines; therefore, it may be an important anticancer drug for colon cancer.
Animal model studies suggest that blueberry consumption may reduce tumor size and inhibit ovarian cancer cells by regulating the levels of certain enzymes.
Potential Use of Blueberries in Weight Management
In animal model studies. Lose 20% of body weight after consuming blueberry leaf extract. However, blueberry extract may be considered for weight management. Freeze-dried blueberry powder may help manage long-term problems associated with being overweight. One human study found that consuming blueberries reduced weight gain during aging.
This information is not enough. Additionally, more research is needed to support the potential use of blueberries in weight loss management in humans.
Potential uses of blueberries for brain health
Blueberries have antioxidant activity and may help reduce oxidative stress caused by free reactive oxygen species in the brain. Drinking blueberry juice daily may be beneficial for degenerative diseases. It may benefit normal blood flow to the brains of healthy older adults. It may also enhance memory and slow down the degeneration of brain cells.
Studies have shown that consuming blueberries may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease. Cognitive performance in other adults and older adults has been observed to improve after consuming blueberry powder.
Potential uses of blueberries for eyes:
Blueberries can enhance vision. Therefore, consuming blueberries may play a role in restoring vision clarity. The anthocyanins in blueberries may aid eye health and reduce retinal disease. Blueberries can protect the retina from light damage.
Potential uses of blueberries for heart health
Blueberries may protect against coronary heart disease. It is also used to control high blood pressure and therefore may be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular (related to the heart and blood vessels) disease.
This information is not enough. We need more studies in humans to support this claim. Of course, you can always consult a qualified physician before using blueberries to self-medicate.
Other potential uses for blueberries:
- Blueberries are used as functional foods. It may have properties in managing inflammation-related problems.
- Blueberries may also have some benefits when it comes to memory performance.
Although research shows blueberries are beneficial for various health conditions, this information is not enough. Therefore, further research is needed to determine the true extent of blueberries' health benefits for humans. Additionally, everyone may react differently to blueberries. Therefore, you must consult your doctor before using blueberry preparations to treat any disease.
How to use blueberries?
- Blueberries have a delicate texture and are often eaten as fresh fruit.
- They can be processed into shelf-stable products such as juices, canned fruits, jams, marmalades and preserves.
- They can be freeze-dried or made into powder form.
Blueberry side effects:
Side effects of blueberries include:
- There are no significant studies reporting blueberry side effects.
- However, the incidence of allergic reactions to blueberries can be high. Children may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath and itchy back after ingesting blueberry fruit. A doctor should be consulted immediately to prevent any allergic reactions during this period.
- Blueberry fruit or its leaves may lower blood pressure and may lower blood sugar levels below average.
Things to note when consuming blueberries:
Here are some things to note when consuming blueberries:
- There is currently insufficient information to consider the safe use of blueberries by pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is essential, so taking the advice of your doctor is always recommended.
- Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is a genetic disorder. People with this condition must consult a doctor before consuming blueberries to ensure safety and prevent health illnesses.
- People who have had surgery should take precautions because consuming blueberries may affect their blood sugar levels. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice and eat a diet prescribed for you only during these times.
- Children may develop allergic reactions; therefore, extreme caution should be taken when feeding blueberries to young children. Children require special attention. Therefore, if any problem arises, please consult your doctor.
- People should not use blueberries to self-treat without consulting a doctor.
Interactions with other drugs:
- Blueberry juice may interfere with certain enzymes that help metabolize warfarin (an anticoagulant drug). Therefore, blueberry juice may lead to an increased risk of bleeding.
- Any dietary modifications should be made with your doctor first to prevent adverse drug reactions. Your doctor will be the best person to guide you on how to best take blueberries as an herbal medicine.