Now it's time for some delicious blueberries. These small fruits of a beautiful deep blue should never be missing, both as a frozen product throughout the year and as a fresh fruit when it's in season. And now is the time to taste fresh blueberries, savoring their sweet and sour notes at the same time. Blueberries should be included in your diet, however, not only because they are delicious but also because they are healthy. In fact, blueberries are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, support memory and cognitive function, protect eyesight, liver and heart thanks to the precious substances they contain, such as flavonoids, polyphenols and chlorogenic acid. And every month science discovers something new about the properties of blueberries! Today we will talk about the very latest scientific research that sheds light on some, sometimes quite unexpected, effects of blueberries.
Blueberries for bone health
Blueberries are a beneficial fruit, capable of improving bone health by fighting osteoporosis. In particular, consuming less than a cup of blueberries a day, namely about 100 grams, has attenuated the loss of bone mass even in categories of people more at risk of osteoporosis, such as women in menopause, who, due to the reduction of estrogens, can develop bone fragility (Hodges et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2023). It is believed that this protective action of blueberries on bones is due to polyphenols, which are antioxidant substances contained in these delicious little fruits.
Blueberries for the heart
Consuming a cup of blueberries a day for 3 months has been shown to improve the function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels and the heart, responsible for regulating the tone and structure of the vessels and controlling platelets and the coagulation processes. This protective effect for the cardiovascular system has also been observed in people with an increased cardiovascular risk, such as menopausal women with above-normal blood pressure values. Instead, the consumption of blueberries has been able to strengthen the endothelium thanks to the contribution of antioxidants (Woolf et al, Food Funct, 2023).
Blueberries and skin
Our skin is targeted by constant threats to its health, such as pollution and sunlight. These factors stress the skin that, fortunately, is equipped with powerful defensive mechanisms. Chronic exposure to these factors, however, weakens our natural defenses and increases the risk of premature skin aging, with the appearance of wrinkles, dry skin, dull skin, dark spots and finally even cellular degeneration. Blueberries, thanks to their antioxidant properties, can come in handy, counteract the damage of free radicals and help make the skin more elastic (Ivarsson et al, Antioxidants, 2023). Not only that, consuming blueberries has been shown to counter conditions such as psoriasis, acne, atopic dermatitis and dandruff through the regulation of the intestinal microbiota, the true center of our health and that of various organs such as the skin (Ivarsson et al, Antioxidants, 2023). But even the topical application of blueberries and their extracts has been shown to help, protecting collagen from the harmful action of UV rays, for a more toned skin with fewer wrinkles (Ivarsson et al, Antioxidants, 2023). To take advantage of these benefits, you can make a face mask at home. Blend a tablespoon of blueberries, add two tablespoons of thick yogurt and apply on clean face for ten minutes, then rinse and continue with your treatment.
Blueberries and neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is the process of formation of new brain neurons and is the basis of neuroplasticity and tissue remodeling of the central nervous system. Neurogenesis occurs throughout our lives even if, with age, it slows down more or less markedly based on the person, his lifestyle and his diet. If neurogenesis slows down, it also slows down the brain's ability to regenerate and cope with any alterations. Therefore, it is important to stimulate the processes of neurogenesis, even when age advances, to cope with neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that diet can, at least in part, reactivate these processes. Well, among the various foods that can be protective for neurogenesis and for the brain, blueberries have proved to be particularly beneficial thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, capable of increasing the vitality of progenitor cells, which are the cells that generate new neurons (Zheng et al, Molecules, 2022).
Blueberries against obesity and diabetes
Blueberries significantly reduce free radicals and inflammation and this leads to an improvement in the composition of the gut microbiota in the case of obesity, metabolic syndrome but also type 2 diabetes. Not only that, blueberries help reduce blood sugar after a meal through two main mechanisms. First, blueberries stimulate the body's use of glucose so that the sugar is taken from the bloodstream and carried into the cell, thus reducing blood sugar. Then, blueberries are also able to inhibit the action of enzymes responsible for the digestion of sugars (Souza de Oliveira et al, Metabolites, 2023 - Palma et al, Nutrients, 2021).