Much ado has been made about “superfoods” over the past few years, from pomegranate seeds to kale and everything in between. There is one little fruit, however, that scientists wholeheartedly agree packs a nutritional punch: the mighty blueberry.
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Blueberries are chockfull of good-for-you antioxidants, but that’s not all they have going for them. Here are just a few of the latest studies in favour of this fruit.
1. They Help You Recover Post-Workout
According to a recent study, eating blueberries immediately after exercise can help you recover post workout. Subjects performed a muscle-damaging exercise and then some consumed a blue-berry rich drink and others did not. Those who had blueberries immediately after a workout had accelerated recovery of muscle peak isometric strength.
2. They Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes
Metabolic syndrome is a growing health problem, and it includes a variety of symptoms such as increased blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For many people, it can also lead to diabetes. Blueberries, however, have been found to help the condition. Two recent eight-week animal studies from the University of Maine found that a diet that included wild blueberries may improve metabolic syndrome markers, such as inflammation and blood lipids. The researchers suggest that humans consume about two cups of blueberries a day for similar results.
3. They Make You Happy
Research based on an animal study presented at the 2015 Experimental Biology meeting in Boston suggested that blueberries might be of use in helping treat post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, a diet that was two per cent blueberries was linked to lower levels neurotransmitter markers found in PTSD patients and higher levels of serotonin, which is a chemical associated with mood. The study also included a group with a no-blueberry diet as well as a control group.
4. They Could Protect You From Heart Disease
The rates of mortality from heart disease increases for women past menopause, but blueberries may help, according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Post-menopausal women with pre and stage-1 hypertension were separated into two groups, given either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder or a placebo. Their blood pressure and arterial stiffness were assessed at the beginning of the study, and four and eight weeks later. The control group measures remained unchanged, while the blueberry group showed improved levels of nitric oxide production, which researchers suggest may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
5. They Make You Smarter
According to researchers from North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, it’s the phytochemicals that protect brain cell turnover, which might also help protect against Parkinson’s disease. Because of the high concentration and combination of types of these antioxidants in blueberries, they’re thought to be better than other fruits for brain health.
6. They Boost Your Immune System
A recent study published Phytotherapy Research suggests that blueberries, along with green tea and soy, could protect athletes from viral infections that may happen after rigorous exercise. Runners were supplemented with a blueberry green-tea polyphenol soy protein after exercise and exhibited antiviral properties over 17 days. Forget an apple a day… try blueberries.
7. They Combat The Effects Of A Fatty Diet
Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals, and since blueberries contain so many of these, it’s safe to assume that they help with inflammation. A PLos study concluded that a diet that includes blueberries can improve inflammation associated with “cytokines, inflammatory cells, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, weight gain, body fat, food consumption and energy metabolism.” So even though animal subjects were on a high-fat diet for three months, their inflammation markers improved when they consumed blueberries.
Make this smoothie after your next workout. (Courtesy of wildblueberries.com).
Wild Blueberry Protein-Packed Recovery Smoothie
- 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
- 1/2 cup frozen mango
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- Half a small banana (or one whole one and omit either mango or pineapple)
- 1/2 cup milk (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies)
- 2/3 cup cottage cheese
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
Blend all ingredients until smooth.