20 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Blueberries

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, both of which have powerful health benefits. These include the ability to reduce signs of aging, may improve heart health, assist in controlling blood pressure and diabetes, and may even lower the risk of cancer. Considered to be a superfood by many, blueberries can also help improve brain health, promote weight loss, and soothe inflammation.

What are Blueberries?

Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are tiny, indigo-colored, edible berries, which are sweet to taste. The blueberry plant is a perennial flowering shrub which grows in clusters, especially in North America. They are closely related to bilberries, cranberries, and gooseberries.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Blueberries, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]84.21
Energy [kcal]57
Protein [g]0.74
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.33
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]14.49
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.4
Sugars, total [g]9.96
Calcium, Ca [mg]6
Iron, Fe [mg]0.28
Magnesium, Mg [mg]6
Phosphorus, P [mg]12
Potassium, K [mg]77
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.16
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]9.7
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.04
Niacin [mg]0.42
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.05
Folate, DFE [µg]6
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]3
Vitamin A, IU [IU]54
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.57
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]19.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.15
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Blueberries are nutrient-dense, low in calories, and high in fiber. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the berries are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese. They are low in carbohydrates and sodium and have high water content.

They are also abundant in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, responsible for their deep blue color and powerful health benefits. Blueberries, as compared with many of the other foods, have one of the highest amounts of antioxidants.

Health Benefits

Let’s take a look at the powerful health benefits of blueberries.

Strengthen Bones

Blueberries are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K; these nutrients, in tandem with exercise and an overall healthy diet, are key for bone health.

Skin Care

Anthocyanins in blueberries assist in fighting oxidative DNA damage, while the abundance of vitamin C is a big factor in building collagen. This is why regular consumption of blueberries may help reduce signs of aging, such as wrinkles, age spots, and acne.

A small wooden basket and wooden spoon filled with blueberries on a wooden table

Lowers Bad Cholesterol

Research suggests that the high fiber content and abundant antioxidants in blueberries may help dissolve the LDL (bad) cholesterol, making them an ideal dietary supplement to combat many heart diseases, while also strengthening the cardiac muscles. They also contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which help in reducing blood pressure.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that daily consumption of blueberries helped improve blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women. While more lengthy, larger population studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of these result, preliminary findings suggest that daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

Protect Heart Health

Blueberries are known for their presence of fiber, anthocyanin, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Fiber and anthocyanin have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, which in turn, may lessen or prevent clogging of arteries. Vitamin B6 and folate mitigate blood vessel damage by inhibiting homocysteine build-up and potassium regulates the working of heart muscles.

Manage Diabetes

Blueberry juice and extract may help improve insulin sensitivity in obese, nondiabetic, insulin-resident men and women, one study shows. Blueberry is a high fiber food that is an essential part of the diabetic diet and helps lower blood sugar levels.

May Contribute to Cancer Prevention

According to a report published by, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, California, in the Cancer Research Journal, blueberries have anti-cancer properties. The results of their studies suggest that the oral intake of blueberries could be a key component of long-term cancer prevention strategies. A team of American researchers also published a report in the Nutrition and Cancer Journal stating that it contains certain compounds like pterostilbene and ellagic acid. These two in harmony with anthocyanin and other antioxidants (like vitamin C and copper) are also being researched for their anti-cancer potential.

Improve Brain Function

The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in blueberries amongst children in the age group of 7-10 years appear to improve cognition and preventing some degeneration and death of neurons suggests a study published in European Journal of Nutrition. According to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the beneficial compounds found in these berries may have positive implications for lowering your risk of suffering from disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. They can even heal damaged brain cells and neuron tissues to keep your memory sharp. However, future research is needed to confirm these initial findings.

Weight Loss

The high fiber content present in them promotes digestion and weight loss. They also promote satiety and may help reduce belly fat, according to one study. One cup of blueberries contains only 15 grams of carbohydrates and 84 calories. Thus, frozen or dried blueberries are great low-calorie snacks.

Rich in Antioxidants

The antioxidants along with other phytonutrients and flavonoids present in blueberries are responsible for some of the free radical scavenging activity in the body. The group of flavonoids, in particular, anthocyanin, protects the body from all types of damage due to free radicals.

A number of studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry establish that high amounts of antioxidants are beneficial to the body in various ways including reducing cellular structure damage, DNA damage, and early aging.

Soothe Inflammation

The antioxidants in blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties reducing the activity of markers of inflammation. These antioxidants may help in preventing chronic inflammatory diseases.

Other Benefits

Other benefits of blackberries include:

Antidepressant

Flavonoid-rich wild blueberries help enhance mood and act as an effective antidepressant.

Promote Digestion

The roughage (fiber) present in blueberries contributes towards the total dairy amount needed to prevent constipation. Also, the vitamins, sodium, copper, fructose, and acids the blueberries contain can assist in digestion by stimulating the secretion of correct gastric and digestive juices. This helps the food move smoothly through the gastrointestinal system.

Treat Urinary Tract Infections

Similarly to how cranberries and cranberry juice is known for alleviating urinary tract infections, blueberries may, too. Both are known to have certain antibiotic properties and compounds that prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls.

Health benefits of blueberry - infographic

Eye Care

Blueberries can delay age-related ocular problems due to their antioxidant properties. These include macular degeneration, cataracts, myopia and hypermetropia, dryness, as well as infections pertaining the retina. They contain special antioxidants called carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, etc.), flavonoids (like rutin, resveratrol, quercetin, etc.), and other antioxidant compounds, which are all very beneficial for ocular health.

Boost Immunity

Antioxidants present in blueberries can boost your overall immune system and prevent infections. Once your immune system is strong, you reduce the chance of catching catch colds, fever, pox, and countless other communicable diseases spread by bacteria and viruses.

Reduce Muscle Soreness

Blueberries help reduce the muscle soreness and fatigue that occurs after a strenuous exercise or activity, according to one study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Hair Care

They help promote hair growth. Mix blueberries and olive oil, apply the blend to hair and roots and rinse with warm water to enhance hair growth.

Alleviate IBS

Blueberry husks consumed along with probiotics show potentially potent anti-inflammatory properties. This combination may alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease, such as bleeding and pain caused by ulcerative colitis.

Promote Detoxification

Anthocyanin in blueberries have been studied in animal models, and found to potentially help detoxify heavy metals from the body including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.

Increase Lifespan

Polyphenols and resveratrol found in blueberries help long been thought to increase longevity and decrease the adverse effects linked with aging. Of course, these compounds are only beneficial if combined with exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Types

There are five major types of blueberries:

  • Lowbush
  • Northern Highbush
  • Southern Highbush
  • Rabbiteye
  • Half-high

Uses

Blueberries can be incorporated into practically any dish to impart a sweet-tart taste. They could be used as toppings or be added to various dishes like over baked foods, oatmeal, yogurts, pancakes, smoothies or salads.

Select and Store

Here are a few tips to remember while buying and storing blueberries:

  • They are available in fresh, frozen, and dried form.
  • Frozen blueberries lose texture faster than fresh berries, but the flavor remains the same.
  • Always select fresh firm blueberries as they are moisture free and last long
  • Freeze and enjoy snacking on them!

Side effects

A few side effects include:

  • Blood-thinning: People taking blood-thinning medication (warfarin) or suffering from blood disorders (hemophilia) speak with their doctors about consuming blueberries. The vitamin K content may interfere with the blood-thinning and result in blood-clot. It is thought that consuming a consistent amount (such as 1 cup, three times weekly) can help physicians to determine an appropriate amount of medication.
  • Allergy: They may cause a food allergy like itching, swelling or difficulty in breathing.

Note: Avoid use before or after surgery as blueberries can interfere with blood sugar control.

A final interesting thing to know about blueberries is that the darker the color of the blueberries, the richer they are in antioxidants and other medicinal nutrients. In other words, eat them until your tongue turns blue (yes, we exaggerate, but eat a lot!) in order to round out a healthy diet.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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