Soon fresh blueberries will be cropping up everywhere from the corner grocery store to the local farmer’s market. This luscious beauty is America’s second favorite berry after strawberries. One of the few fruits native to North America, blueberries reach their peak in June and July. Choose firm, uniformly colored berries and don’t dismiss those with a whitish bloom, as this it the natural coating that protects the skins. Besides being tasty, blueberries have caught the eye of researchers who have discovered their bountiful health benefits. Here are three good reasons to toss a handful of these berries into your favorite smoothie, fruit salad or oatmeal today.
According to Tufts University, blueberries have been shown to improve blood pressure and reduce arterial stiffness. Other research suggests that blueberries can help improve cholesterol levels; specifically reducing oxidation of the bad LDL cholesterol.
Blueberries are rich in polyphenols called anthocyanins, which give them their distinctive color. These anthocyanins can cross the blood brain barrier and might decrease the oxidative stress that occurs with aging, reduce inflammation and increase signaling between neurons. What’s more, Tufts University scientists have found that the addition of blueberries to a diet can improve short-term memory, navigational skills, balance and coordination.
Diabetes and Cancer
Although blueberries fall a little higher on the glycemic index than other berries, they may be beneficial for blood sugar regulation, according to one study. In other studies, blueberries have been shown to decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.