Botanically related to the cranberry, bilberry, and azalea, blueberries pack so much nutrition in such a small package that they are considered one of nature’s wonder foods.
One reason is that blueberries are phytonutrient superstars. They rank very high in at least 16 identified phytonutrients, all of which function both as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. Such nutrients go to battle for you to stomp out the free radicals that damage cellular structures and DNA, and to strengthen the walls of your arteries. Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices, and seasonings.
The antioxidants in blueberries protect arteries by cutting down on the oxidative effects that lead to harmful arterial lesions, thereby giving fatty plaques no place to form. Regularly including blueberries in one’s diet improves blood fat balances, including reduction in total cholesterol and lowering of triglycerides, and supports healthy blood pressure. Connected with this antioxidant protection of blood vessels and blood fats is an improved overall antioxidant capacity in the blood itself, thereby improving one’s overall cardiovascular health.
In a recent study of obese people who had insulin resistance but not full-blown diabetes, participants drank a daily smoothie containing dried blueberry extract. After only 6 weeks, the study group demonstrated significantly improved insulin sensitivity compared to the placebo group — even though neither group lost weight, changed their exercise levels, or changed their diets, indicating strongly that it was the blueberries alone that produced this benefit.
In addition to increasing one’s resistance to disease, the nutrients in blueberries help restore brain health and cognitive function, including increased memory; promote urinary tract health; help prevent age-related ocular problems such as macular degeneration; inhibit the growth of cancer cells; and function as a natural anti-depressant, promoting a greater overall sense of well-being.
Blueberries retain their maximum amount of nutrients and their maximum taste when they are eaten fresh rather than cooked. Freezing is also acceptable, as it has been shown to retain virtually all of the beneficial nutrients.
“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed. To you it should be for meat.’” Gen. 1:29