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The Power of Blueberries: How This Superfood Can Boost Your Health

April 30, 2015

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but there’s another delicious fruit that packs an even greater nutritional punch—blueberries.

It’s been referred to as one of nature’s most potent superfoods and contains several vital nutrients that boost heart health, the skin’s appearance and brain power.

Luckily, it’s now blueberry season in Central Florida, which means you can spend the afternoon picking the freshest blueberries at a local farm or buying a batch at a nearby farmer’s market. Blueberries are a great addition to any diet and are so versatile that you can eat them during breakfast, lunch or even dinner.

If blueberries aren’t a staple in your diet, here are some reasons they should be, along with a few creative ways to incorporate this delicious fruit into your meals.

Blueberries improve heart health

A Harvard School of Public Health study that tracked nearly 94,000 women for 18 years found that women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries had an increased risk of a heart attack. Women who ate more of these fruits were 34 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

The study suggested that eating blueberries at least three times a week could have significant benefits for your heart and overall health. Blueberries may be protective for the heart thanks to polyphenols — or more specifically, anthocyanin — a phytonutrient that naturally occurs in plants and gives the fruit its blue color. Anthocyanins, which are found in blue, purple and red fruits and vegetables, have been linked to improved blood vessel health in animals and humans. These antioxidants work to squelch free radicals, unstable molecules linked to the development of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Blueberries may help prevent disease

The fruit also shows promise from a prevention standpoint, as there is ongoing research in the areas of cancer, brain function and insulin resistance. One study involving people with metabolic syndrome who were overweight showed that those who drank a blueberry beverage had lower blood pressure. Other studies published in the Journal of Nutrition and the Journal of Cancer Research have shown that blueberries may improve memory and affect breast cancer cell growth and tumor growth.

Add some blueberries to your diet!

A one cup portion only has 84 calories, 14.4 mg of vitamin C and 3.6 grams of fiber. You can creatively incorporate this fruit into your diet with recipes like blueberry and butternut squash couscous salad or this blueberry fruit shake.

Simply put, blueberries are an awesome superfood. Don’t forget that other deep blue, purple and red fruits and vegetables also carry the protective benefits of anthocyanin, so include a variety of these foods in your diet for optimal health.