Blueberry Nutrition

"Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat"
John H Weisburger, 2000

There's lots of interest in growing blueberries in the club & Jennifer recently gave a mini talk on them at the January 2020 Meeting. Most people find them delicious, they're versatile & can be eaten fresh or stored frozen without unduly destroying texture, they can be used in all sorts of cooked products (eg muffins), they're ideal for smaller properties as in our coastal sands they're best grown in pots, plus a well-managed plant can produce hundreds of fruit each season. An extra reason for having them in your yard is the berries are very good for our health, as summarised in the following review of recent published research (Advances in Nutrition (2020) 11, 224-236).

Awareness of the human health benefits of blueberries is underpinned by a growing body of positive scientific evidence from human observational & clinical research, plus mechanistic research using animal and in vitro models. Blueberries contain a large number of phytochemicals, including abundant anthocyanin pigments. Of their various phytochemicals, anthocyanins probably make the greatest impact on blueberry health functionality. Epidemiological studies associate regular, moderate intake of blueberries and/or anthocyanins with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, death, and type 2 diabetes, and with improved weight maintenance and neuroprotection. These findings are supported by biomarker-based evidence from human clinical studies. Among the more important healthful aspects of blueberries are their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions and their beneficial effects on vascular and gluco-regulatory function. Blueberry phytochemicals may affect gastrointestinal microflora & contribute to host health. These aspects have implications in degenerative diseases and conditions as well as the ageing process. More evidence, and particularly human clinical evidence, is needed to better understand the potential for anthocyanin-rich blueberries to benefit public health. However, it is widely agreed that the regular consumption of tasty, ripe blueberries can be unconditionally recommended.

The authors concluded by stating a daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world.

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