Nutritionists proclaim that blueberries have significant health benefits, despite their small size. These round purple berries are native to North America, they are a great source on antioxidants that lead to a number of health benefits.
There are two main varieties of blueberries:
- Highbush Blueberries: These species are the most commonly cultivated forms of blueberries and the type we see most often in the grocery store. Included here are northern and southern highbush, which can grow as high as 12 feet in height in their native (uncultivated) state but when cultivated usually stay within a range of 4-7 feet. Highbush blueberries are also the kind you’re most likely to find available for purchase at your local garden stores and plant nurseries. Cultivated highbush blueberries have often been hybridized to produce larger size berries, which U.S. consumers seem to prefer.
- Lowbush Blueberries: These species are commonly referred to as “wild blueberries.” In their native state, they typically grow less than 2 feet in height and often stay even lower, at 8-12 inches from the ground. Lowbush species produce berries of a smaller size than highbush and even though they can be found growing wild in many parts of the U.S. are not commonly found in supermarkets.
Blueberries have been found to provide many health benefits:
- High in Antioxidants: Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids appear to be the major antioxidant compounds.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Blueberries appear to have significant benefits for people with high blood pressure, a major risk factor for some of the world’s leading killers. Studies have found that consuming blueberries may reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide levels.
- Improve cognition: A recent study suggested that blueberries might turn out to be beneficial not only for improvement of memory, but for slowing down or postponing the onset of other cognitive problems frequently associated with aging. This is most likely due to their protection of nerve cells.
These are just a few of the many benefits that consuming blueberries provides. They are are a very good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber and copper. Like anything you want to limit the amount you consume, try eating no more than a cup of fresh berries each day.