Are blueberries the best natural source of antioxidants? Everything you need to know about this amazing superfood.
What are blueberries?
Blueberries are the sweet, edible blue berries of the Vaccinium corymbosum plant.
There are many varieties of blueberry which grow in various regions of the world, but all grow in clusters of round, blue-purple fruits with thin skins and a translucent flesh that’s packed with tiny seeds.
In the UK, blueberries start to grow around June and are ripe and ready to enjoy throughout August and September. Blueberries are also cultivated to keep up with demand for this nutritious and delicious fruit year-round - both as a fresh fruit and also to provide blueberries for use as a nutritional supplement and health food.
However you choose to enjoy your blueberries, they’re an amazing nutrient-packed fruit which provide some impressive health benefits.
Blueberries: The Original Superfood
Amongst all of the exotic and unusual foods on the superfood scene, blueberries are the familiar fruit we all know and love - and were one of the first foods to be crowned as a superfood.
Nutritionists and dieticians have praised blueberries for their nutrient density, providing an array of beneficial nutrients in every small serving.
Not only is this great for contributing to your daily recommended nutrient intake, but blueberries are also a very low sugar and low carbohydrate fruit. This means that they won’t spike blood sugar levels like some other high carbohydrate fruits such as mango, apple and banana. Blueberries are also a welcome addition to Keto and Low Carb diets for this reason.
Let’s explore exactly what makes blueberries worthy of their superfood status.
Nutritional Profile of Blueberries
Like most superfoods, blueberries contain a spectrum of nutrients and just one serving can boost your intake of many essential nutrients including:
- Vitamins - Vitamin C, Vitamin K
- Minerals - Potassium, Manganese
- Anthocyanins - compounds which give blueberries their deep, vivid blue-purple colour
The Health Benefits of Blueberries
Given the impressive nutritional content of blueberries and the fact that they’re one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, it comes as no surprise that eating blueberries can have a number of health benefits.
Research has shown that eating blueberries can help to:
Lower blood pressure - reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease
Balance cholesterol levels - increasing HDL cholesterol (good) and lowering LDL cholesterol (bad)
Lower inflammation - blueberries have potent anti-inflammatory action in the body
Support cardiovascular health - protect heart health and lower the risk of heart disease
Enhance brain function and protect overall brain health
Support a healthy weight loss and reduce the risk of obesity
Bolster the immune system - promoting overall health and protecting the body from chronic diseases
Have anti-ageing benefits - including reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disease in older adults & minimising the effects of the ageing process on the body
The best way to enjoy the health benefits of blueberries is to include them in your everyday diet. Aim to eat a handful of fresh blueberries each day, or supplement your diet with a high quality Organic blueberry juice or powder.
Blueberries: The ultimate antioxidant superfood?
The word antioxidant is synonymous with healthy eating and wellness for good reason. Antioxidants are compounds which prevent oxidation caused by free radicals, unstable molecules which are damaging to health. In other words, they protect the body from damage at a cellular level - reducing the risk of disease.
Most fruit and vegetables contain a source of antioxidants, so what is it which makes blueberries the best source?
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a laboratory analysis which provides an overall measure of a food’s antioxidant activity. This is important because even foods which are high in antioxidants may not translate to antioxidant activity in the body when consumed.
The pretty cool test works by ‘challenging’ a food with an oxidising agent, then measuring that food’s overall capacity to resist oxidation. Whilst there is limited evidence on the link between ORAC and health, it is generally thought that higher ORAC scores have greater antioxidant capacity, and so these foods more effectively neutralise harmful free radicals.
According to studies, wild blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of 20 fruits tested for ORAC.
The ORAC score for wild blueberries is 9621, which can be compared with other berries as follows:
- Cranberries - 9090
- Blackberries - 5905
- Raspberries - 4882
- Blueberries (cultivated) - 4669
- Strawberries - 4302
- Gooseberries - 3277
Whilst some other foods are technically higher in antioxidants (for example coffee cherry, vanilla bean, peppermint leaves), blueberries are considered to be the best commonly consumed source of antioxidants.
Why Organic & Wild Blueberries are Best
Not all blueberries are created equal and which type of blueberries you choose to eat could impact how good they are for you, including their antioxidant content - not to mention their flavour.
What’s the difference between cultivated blueberries and wild blueberries?
You may not have realised that “wild blueberries” were a thing but they are actually slightly different to the cultivate blueberries you find widely available in supermarkets. Rather than being grown direct for purpose, wild blueberries grow naturally in fields and hills as they have done for thousands of years.
They are naturally pollinated by bees and are a fairly low maintenance crop. Like most wild fruit, wild blueberries appear in many different shapes, sizes and colours. They tend to be smaller and more purple-black compared with the lighter shades you find in supermarkets. Wild blueberries also grow low in the land, rather than in tall bushes as with cultivation. This means that farmers need to bend down and harvest the blueberries by hand.
Why are wild blueberries always best?
Aside from how they are grown and harvested, the most important difference between wild and cultivated blueberries for consumers is their nutritional content.
Studies have shown that wild blueberries can have up to twice the antioxidant content compared with cultivated. Considering that conventional blueberries are such an amazing source of antioxidants, this is pretty impressive and important.
Wild blueberries also have a high anthocyanin content - which makes sense as this compound gives blueberries their blue-purple colour, and wild blueberries are usually a lot darker. It is thought that as wild blueberries have had to adapt to colder temperatures and harsher environments, their anthocyanin content is increased to produce a harder fruit.
How to Choose the Best Blueberries
Choosing the best blueberries will help you to enjoy their best colour, flavour and nutrition. Here are some top tips for choosing juicy, tasty, fresh and nutritious blueberries every time.
Always certified Organic - For fresh, frozen, dried, powdered or supplements Organic blueberries are always best
100% natural supplements or powders - Look out for any fillers, bulking agents, artificial ingredients and sweeteners - not only are these not good for us but the more added ingredients, the less actual blueberries there will be
Firm, plump and smooth fresh blueberries - Dull, shrunken or wrinkled blueberries tend to be a little past their best - they won’t taste as nice and will probably be less nutritious too
- Look for a vivd deep blue-purply colour - This is also a good sign of freshness and means that those amazing anthocyanins which create this colour are still doing their magic
Blueberry Superfood Recipes
Blueberries are easily scattered onto oats, yoghurt and cereal as well as tossed into smoothies for a superfood boost. You can even pack a handful of fresh blueberries to take with you on the move and enjoy as a healthy snack.
We love adding fresh and frozen blueberries to healthy recipes for a boost of colour, flavour and nutrition. Here are a few of our favourite recipes which make the most of this superfruit and it’s amazing health benefits.
Rheal Superfood Blends with Organic Wild Blueberry 🌱
Our certified Organic wild blueberries are freeze-dried to lock in their goodness and bring you all the benefits of fresh wild blueberries in a nutrient-dense, convenient and delicious powder you can add to any healthy recipe, or simply mix into water.
🍓 Berry Beauty - Berry Beauty is our antioxidant blend and chosen product for promoting healthy hair, skin and nails. Along with blueberry it contains acai berry, acerola, cranberry, maqui berry, strawberry, chia seeds and maca root - always Organic and with nothing else added.
🌸 Balance Tonic - Balance Tonic was specifically formulated to help promote hormonal balance and inner harmony. It contains 6 Organic superfoods including blueberry, hibiscus, baobab, shatavari root, maca root and KSM-66 ashwagandha root