July is National Blueberry Month, and while the month is nearly over, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy what just might be the perfect summer fruit. Blueberries are delicious, full of antioxidants, low in calories, high in vitamin C, and a good source of dietary fiber. Read on for some fun facts and figures on this superfood and a few recipes to tempt your taste buds.
Blueberries are a nutrition powerhouse.
According to The Blueberry Council:
- A cup of blueberries has just 80 calories, virtually no fat, and is low in sodium.
- In just one serving of blueberries, you can get almost 16% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, which is necessary for the growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing.
- A handful of blueberries can help you meet your daily fiber requirement. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, helping you feel full faster.
- Blueberries are high in manganese, which helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein.
- Adding blueberries to a meal is an easy way to ensure you’re meeting USDA Guidelines for eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Blueberry consumption shows promising effects on certain health conditions.
- Cardiovascular health: A group of researchers from the University of East Anglia, in collaboration with colleagues from Harvard and across the UK, found that eating just 150 grams of blueberries per day could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15%.
- Diabetes management: Epidemiological evidence indicates that incorporating blueberries into the diet may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown improvements in insulin resistance after obese and insulin-resistant rodents or humans consumed blueberries.
- Brain health: In studies with animals, researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.1
- Gut microbiome: A recent study showed that adding blueberries to the high-fat diets fed to male rats resulted in changes in the gut microbiota associated with improvements in inflammation and insulin signaling. Scientists say results can’t be directly extrapolated to humans and further research is necessary, but early studies are promising.
Blueberries aren’t just for breakfast or desserts.
When we think of blueberries, our brains naturally turn to topping cereal or making blueberry muffins or smoothies. But blueberries can accompany savory foods too, and are an easy addition to any meal.
- Blueberries are a natural addition to salads. Try this recipe: Summer Blueberry Salad with Toasted Pecans and Feta
- Let blueberries accompany your next grilled meat. Try this recipe: Grilled Chicken with Blueberry Relish
- Or, make a blueberry sauce to go with fish. Try this recipe: Grilled Salmon Steaks with Savory Blueberry Sauce
- Side dishes are great for blueberries, too. Try this recipe: Blueberry-and-Kale Grain Salad
Personally, my favorite ways to eat blueberries are on top of my yogurt or straight out of the freezer. For additional tips and recipes, follow us on Instagram at @WebMDHealthCoach.
Blueberries are at their peak right now, so don’t miss your chance to stock up at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, or maybe even visit a pick-your-own farm. And don’t be afraid to overbuy—blueberries freeze well so you can enjoy their great taste and health benefits all year long!