Written by Joe Leech, MS on October 9, 2018
Blueberries are sweet, nutritious and wildly popular.
Often labeled a superfood, they are low in calories and incredibly good for you.
They’re so tasty and convenient that many people consider them their favorite fruit.
Here are 10 proven health benefits of blueberries.
- Blueberries Are Low in Calories But High in Nutrients
The blueberry bush (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus) is a flowering shrub that produces berries with a bluish, purple hue — also known as blueberries.
It is closely related to similar shrubs, such as those that produce cranberries and huckleberries.
Blueberries are small — around 0.2–0.6 inches (5–16 millimeters) in diameter — and feature a flared crown at the end.
They are green in color when they first appear, then deepen to purple and blue as they ripen.
The two most common types are:
Highbush blueberries: The most common cultivated variety in the US.
Lowbush or “wild” blueberries: Typically smaller and richer in some antioxidants.
Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries. A 1-cup (148-gram) serving of blueberries contains (1):
Fiber: 4 grams
Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
Manganese: 25% of the RDI
Small amounts of various other nutrients
They are also about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Calorie for calorie, this makes them an excellent source of several important nutrients.
The blueberry is a very popular berry. It is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K.
- Blueberries are the King of Antioxidant Foods
Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases, such as cancer (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids.
One group of flavonoids in particular — anthocyanins — is thought to be responsible for much of these berries’ beneficial health effects (7Trusted Source).
Blueberries have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels in your body (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all the popular fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids appear to be the berries’ antioxidant with the greatest impact.
- Blueberries Reduce DNA Damage, Which May Help Protect Against Aging and Cancer
Oxidative DNA damage is an unavoidable part of everyday life. It is said to occur tens of thousands of times per day in every cell in your body (10).
DNA damage is part of the reason we grow older. It also plays an important role in the development of diseases like cancer (11Trusted Source).
Because blueberries are high in antioxidants, they can neutralize some of the free radicals that damage your DNA.
In one study, 168 people drank 34 ounces (1 liter) of a mixed blueberry and apple juice daily. After four weeks, oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20% (12Trusted Source).
These findings agree with smaller studies that use either fresh or powdered blueberries (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Several studies suggest that blueberries and blueberry juice reduce DNA damage, which is a leading driver of aging and cancer.
- Blueberries Protect Cholesterol in Your Blood From Becoming Damaged
Oxidative damage is not limited to your cells and DNA.
It is also problematic when your “bad” LDL cholesterol is oxidized.
In fact, oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol is a crucial step in the heart disease process.
The antioxidants in blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of oxidized LDL. This makes blueberries very good for your heart (15Trusted Source).
A daily 2-ounce (50-gram) serving of blueberries lowered LDL oxidation by 27% over eight weeks in obese people who were obese (16Trusted Source).
Another study determined that eating 2.5 ounces (75 grams) of blueberries with a main meal significantly reduced the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol (17Trusted Source).
The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to reduce a predominant risk factor for heart disease by preventing oxidative damage to “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Blueberries May Lower Blood Pressure
Blueberries appear to have significant benefits for people with high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
In an eight-week study, obese people who had had a high risk of heart disease noted a 4–6% reduction in blood pressure after consuming 2 ounces (50 grams) of blueberries per day (18Trusted Source).
Other studies have observed similar effects — especially for postmenopausal women (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Regular blueberry intake is tied to lower blood pressure in numerous studies.
- Blueberries May Help Prevent Heart Disease
While eating blueberries may lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL cholesterol, it’s important to keep in mind that these are risk factors — not actual diseases.
It would be much more informative to know whether blueberries help prevent hard endpoints like heart attacks, which are the world’s leading cause of death (21Trusted Source).
A study in 93,600 nurses found that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — the main antioxidants in blueberries — were at a 32% lower risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intake (22Trusted Source).
Because this was an observational study, it cannot prove that the anthocyanins alone caused the reduction in risk.
More studies are needed before any claims can be made.
Some evidence indicates that eating fruits rich in anthocyanins — such as blueberries — is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks.
- Blueberries Can Help Maintain Brain Function and Improve Memory
Oxidative stress can accelerate your brain’s aging process, negatively affecting brain function.
According to animal studies, the antioxidants in blueberries may affect areas of your brain that are essential for intelligence (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
They appear to benefit aging neurons, leading to improvements in cell signaling.
Human studies have also yielded promising results.
In one of these studies, nine older adults with mild cognitive impairment consumed blueberry juice every day. After 12 weeks, they experienced improvements in several markers of brain function (25Trusted Source).
A six-year study in over 16,000 older individuals found that blueberries and strawberries were linked to delays in mental aging by up to 2.5 years (26Trusted Source).
The antioxidants in blueberries seem to benefit your brain by aiding brain function and delaying mental decline.
- Anthocyanins in Blueberries May Have Anti-Diabetes Effects
Blueberries provide moderate amounts of sugar compared to other fruits.
One cup (148 grams) holds 15 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to a small apple or large orange (1).
However, the bioactive compounds in blueberries appear to outweigh any negative impact of the sugar when it comes to blood sugar control.
Research suggests that anthocyanins in blueberries have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. These anti-diabetes effects occur with both blueberry juice and extract (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29).
In a study in 32 obese people with insulin resistance, two blueberry smoothies daily caused major improvements in insulin sensitivity (30Trusted Source).
Improved insulin sensitivity should lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, which are currently two of the world’s biggest health problems.
Several studies demonstrate that blueberries have anti-diabetes effects, improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
- May Help Fight Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem for women.
It is widely known that cranberry juice can help prevent these types of infections.
Because blueberries are closely related to cranberries, they boast many of the same active substances as cranberry juice (31Trusted Source).
These substances are called anti-adhesives and help prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of your bladder.
Blueberries have rarely been studied for their impact on UTIs, but they likely have similar effects as cranberries (32Trusted Source).
Like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that can prevent certain bacteria from binding to the wall of your bladder, which may help prevent UTIs.
- Blueberries May Reduce Muscle Damage After Strenuous Exercise
Strenuous exercise can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue.
This is driven partly by local inflammation and oxidative stress in your muscle tissue (33Trusted Source).
Blueberry supplements may lessen the damage that occurs at a molecular level, minimizing soreness and reduced muscle performance.
In a small study in 10 female athletes, blueberries accelerated muscle recovery after strenuous leg exercises (34Trusted Source).
One study suggests that blueberries may aid muscle recovery after strenuous exercise, though more research is needed.
The Bottom Line
Blueberries are incredibly healthy and nutritious.
They boost your heart health, brain function and numerous other aspects of your body.
What’s more, they’re sweet, colorful and easily enjoyed either fresh or frozen.
Blueberries are popular berries that serve as a great source of vitamin K.
One cup (148 grams) of blueberries provides the following nutrients (1Trusted Source):
C: 16% of the DV
K: 24% of the DV
22% of the DV
Blueberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins (2Trusted Source).
Anthocyanins from blueberries may reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease in both healthy people and those at high risk for the disease (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
In addition, blueberries may improve other aspects of heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack, and enhancing the function of arteries (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Blueberries may lower the risk of diabetes as well. Studies have shown that blueberries or bioactive blueberry compounds can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26% (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
A large observational study has shown that people who eat blueberries also have slower rates of cognitive decline, meaning their brain remains healthier as they age (12Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed to determine the exact role that blueberries play in brain health.
good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant anthocyanins. Eating
blueberries may help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Raspberries are often used in desserts and serve as a very good source of fiber.
One cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides (13Trusted Source):
C: 36% of the DV
K: 8% of the DV
36% of the DV
Raspberries also contain antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins, which can help reduce oxidative stress (14Trusted Source).
One study showed that when cyclists consumed a drink containing raspberries and other berries, oxidative stress caused by exercise decreased significantly (15Trusted Source).
The most commonly consumed raspberries are the American red or European red varieties. However, there are many different types of raspberries, and black raspberries have been shown to have a number of health benefits, too.
Black raspberries may be especially good for heart health. Studies have proven that black raspberries can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
However, these studies were very small. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of black raspberries.
Raspberries are full of
fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Black raspberries, in particular, may
benefit heart health.
- Goji berries
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are native to China and used in traditional medicine. They have recently become very popular in the Western world.
One ounce (28 grams) of dried goji berries provides (20Trusted Source):
C: 15% of the DV
A: 42% of the DV
11% of the DV
Goji berries also contain high levels of vitamin A and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health.
One study of 150 elderly people found that eating 14 grams of a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry per day reduced the decline in eye health due to aging. This study, along with a second similar study, showed that eating goji berries could raise blood zeaxanthin levels (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Like many other berries, goji berries contain antioxidant polyphenols. One study found that drinking goji berry juice for 30 days increased blood antioxidant levels of healthy, older Chinese people (23Trusted Source).
Another study found that drinking goji berry juice for 2 weeks increased metabolism and reduced waist size in overweight people (24Trusted Source).
SummaryGoji berries are
particularly rich in nutrients that contribute to eye health. They also contain
Strawberries are one of the most commonly consumed berries in the world and also one of the best sources of vitamin C.
One cup (144 grams) of whole strawberries provides (25Trusted Source):
C: 97% of the DV
24% of the DV
Strawberries are good for heart health. In fact, a study of over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than 3 portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of heart attack (26Trusted Source).
Other studies have shown that strawberries may reduce a number of risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Strawberries can also reduce inflammation by lowering inflammatory chemicals in the blood, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and C-reactive protein (CRP) (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
Moreover, strawberries may help control blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing diabetes (33Trusted Source).
In fact, a study of over 200,000 people found that eating strawberries could reduce type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 18% (34Trusted Source).
Finally, another study showed that eating 2 ounces (60 grams) per day of freeze-dried strawberry powder reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory chemicals in people at high risk of developing esophageal cancer (35Trusted Source).
Strawberries are an
excellent source of vitamin C. They are proven to reduce risk factors for heart
disease and help control blood sugar.
Bilberries are very similar to blueberries, and the two are often confused. Bilberries are native to Europe, whereas blueberries are native to North America.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of bilberries provide (36):
C: 16% of the DV
E: 12% of the DV
Many scientific studies have shown that bilberries are effective at reducing inflammation.
A couple of studies have shown that eating bilberries or drinking bilberry juice can reduce inflammation in people at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
Another study of 110 women found that eating bilberries for around 1 month reduced the levels of endothelial markers that are implicated in the development of heart disease. Bilberries also reduced waist circumference by 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) and weight by 0.4 pounds (0.2 kgs) (39Trusted Source).
A separate study found that eating a diet rich in bilberries, whole grains, and fish reduced blood sugar in people with high blood sugar (40Trusted Source).
Bilberries may also increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
Bilberries are similar
to blueberries and are effective at reducing inflammation. They may also help
reduce weight and blood cholesterol.
- Acai berries
Acai berries grow on acai palm trees native to the Brazilian Amazon region.
They have become popular health food supplements because of their high antioxidant content.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of acai berry puree provides (43Trusted Source):
Keep in mind that acai berries are often consumed dried or freeze-dried, which can affect the nutritional content.
Acai berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries (44Trusted Source).
When consumed as a juice or pulp, acai berries can increase blood antioxidant levels and reduce chemicals involved in oxidative stress (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
Additionally, acai berry pulp has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin, and blood cholesterol levels in overweight adults who consumed 200 grams per day for 1 month (47Trusted Source).
These effects have also been shown in athletes. Drinking 3 ounces (100 ml) of an acai juice blend for 6 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and reduced oxidative stress after exercise, which may speed up recovery from muscle damage (48Trusted Source).
The antioxidants in acai may also help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study of people with osteoarthritis found that drinking 4 ounces (120 ml) of acai juice per day for 12 weeks significantly reduced pain and improved daily living (49Trusted Source).
SummaryAcai berries contain
high amounts of antioxidants, which may help reduce blood cholesterol,
oxidative stress, and even reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Cranberries are an extremely healthy fruit with a sour taste.
They are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are commonly consumed as juice.
1 cup (110 grams) of raw cranberries provides (50):
C: 16% of the DV
12% of the DV
Like other berries, cranberries contain antioxidant polyphenols. However, most of these antioxidants are in the skin of the cranberry. Therefore, cranberry juice doesn’t contain as many polyphenols (51Trusted Source).
The best-known health benefit of cranberries is their ability to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Certain chemicals in cranberries prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder or urinary tract, therefore reducing the risk of infection (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).
A number of studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can reduce the risk of UTIs (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source).
Cranberry juice may reduce the risk of other infections as well.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers and cancer. A number of studies have shown that cranberry juice can prevent H. pylori from attaching to the stomach wall and thus prevent infection (58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).
Cranberry juice has also shown various benefits for heart health. Many studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and “stiffness” of arteries (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source).
However, it’s best to avoid varieties of cranberry juice with lots of added sugar.
cranberry juice can reduce the risk of urinary tract and stomach infections and
may benefit heart health. However, it’s best to avoid juices with lots of added
Grapes are widely consumed either as whole, raw fruit or as juice, wine, raisins, or vinegar.
One cup (151 grams) of whole, raw grapes provides (64Trusted Source):
C: 5% of the DV
K: 18% of the DV
The skin and seeds of grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols. A number of studies have shown that grape seed polyphenol extracts can lower both blood pressure and heart rate (65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source).
However, many of these studies were small. Other studies assert that the effect of polyphenols on blood pressure remains unclear (67Trusted Source).
A large observational study found that eating grapes or raisins 3 times per week was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes (68Trusted Source).
Another study found that eating 17 ounces (500 grams) of grapes per day for 8 weeks reduced blood cholesterol and oxidative stress in people with high cholesterol (69Trusted Source).
Finally, grape juice may even benefit brain health. A small study of 25 women found that drinking 12 ounces (355 ml) of Concord grape juice every day for 12 weeks significantly improved memory and driving performance (70Trusted Source).
the seeds and skin, are full of antioxidants. They may help reduce blood
cholesterol and type 2 diabetes risk while also benefiting brain health.
The bottom line
Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Many berries have proven benefits for heart health. These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, while reducing oxidative stress.
They may also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by acting as great alternatives to sugary snacks.
Try to eat a few portions of berries a week and sample different types. They make a great snack or healthy breakfast topping.
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