Native to North America, blueberries have been cultivated since the early 1900s and have long been known for their nutrition related health benefits. Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries with 1 cup providing ~4 grams of fiber as well as a large amount of the daily requirements for vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Fiber plays a key role in heart health, satiety and bowel regularity while vitamin C helps support the immune system, vitamin K is involved in bone health and blood clotting pathways and manganese aides in energy conversion for cells.
While blueberries contain all these beneficial nutrients, they are also low in fructose compared to most other fruits. In general, fruits are a combination of simple sugars – fructose, sucrose and glucose- with berries being considered a low fructose fruit – most of the sugar is coming from glucose which is easier to digest and tolerate compared to fructose.
Blueberries also contain the polyphenol – anthocyanin – which is a plant-based compound that gives blueberries their beautiful blue color and is a potent antioxidant. In fact, blueberries have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scores of all foods which is a measure of antioxidant potency. Antioxidants are compounds that protect against oxidative cell damage and the creation of free radicals. Oxidative damage and free radical production naturally occur with age, stress and environmental factors such as sun exposure and toxins. While oxidative damage is an unavoidable part of everyday life, the antioxidants in blueberries can help neutralize some of this free radical damage which may lead to improved overall health but also a reduced risk of chronic disease. Studies suggest that consuming foods with high ORAC scores may slow the aging process. Antioxidants have been shown to work best when combined with fiber and other polyphenols found in plant foods which supports getting antioxidants through food sources versus dietary supplements.
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