Whether in pancakes, yoghurt, muffins or jam, blueberries are an amazing fruit, absolutely bursting with goodness.
Blueberries are native to North America but are now grown around the world, including Australia. They grow from shrubs; the farmed ‘highbush’ varieties produce the larger fruits that you find in shops, but wild ‘lowbush’ shrubs tend to have smaller, more nutrient-rich berries.
Blueberries have long been known as a ‘superfood’ due to their high levels of nutrients and antioxidants, but what are the real benefits of including them in your diet?
As they are relatively low in sugar and high in fibre they have a low glycaemic Index, which makes them a source of slow-release energy – good for maintaining steady blood sugar levels, and great for gut health.
Blueberries contain high quantities of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Vitamin C is important for skin health and immune function, and Vitamin K is mostly involved in blood clotting. They also have vitamins A, B, and E, and a range of minerals.
They’re also rich in antioxidants, the molecules that fight harmful free radicals in your body. Free radicals occur naturally in your body, but high levels have been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Eating food with high levels of antioxidants helps your body maintain that all important healthy balance.
One group of antioxidants in blueberries is known as anthocyanins – these give blueberries and similar berries their natural blue colouring. Anthocyanins have been linked to all sorts of benefits, such as improved cognition and memory, as well as reducing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Some studies have shown that eating blueberries regularly can have an anti-inflammatory effect. This can protect your brain cells, improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure.
Alongside all these health benefits, they’re a delicious and versatile fruit. They last well when fresh, and can be flash-frozen to retain many of their nutrients – you can find them fresh or frozen in most supermarkets. This means it’s easier than ever to throw some in your next smoothie or on top of your porridge, and enjoy the fruity boost of a truly healthy food.