Last night my son’s lips were blue – not from extreme cold or lack of oxygen, but a mild case of blueberry addiction!
Seeing any one of my kids with blueberry-stained lips isn’t uncommon. After all, they’re one of our favorite snacks. And that’s a good thing because blueberries and heart health benefits add up to a long and impressive list!
Blueberries and Heart Health Benefits Add Up
According to the 2018 study Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings, blueberry health benefits include their anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-inflammation, and anti-obesity properties.
- cardiovascular diseases
- degenerative diseases
- heart diseases
and protect our lungs, vision, and liver.
This is an impressive list for the little blue orbs, and it might just be the blue color itself that packs the biggest punch!
Anthocyanins: The Blue in Blueberries
The study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, credited multiple blueberry compounds for these benefits. The researchers emphasized the importance of polyphenols (a broad term for plant compounds) and anthocyanin flavonoids.
They’re present in any plant food that’s red, purple, blue, or black, and blueberries are packed with healthy blue anthocyanins.
Canadian researchers have shown that anthocyanin content rises dramatically during the berry ripening phase. At the peak of ripeness, it accounts for 60 percent of the fruit’s total polyphenol concentration.
A team of seven Canadian and American researchers reviewed more than 200 papers on blueberries and anthocyanins. In March of 2020, Advances in Nutrition published their findings.
The researchers suggested that anthocyanins “probably make the greatest impact on blueberry health functionality.”
Blueberry Heart-Healthy Benefits
Multiple cohort studies uncovered strong links between blueberries and heart health. A cohort study follows a group of similar people over an extended period of time to see what factors decrease or increase the chances of developing diseases.
It took several large prospective cohort studies in the 1950s and 60s to convince public health professionals to consider the association between smoking and lung cancer.
Cohort studies don’t only make negative connections. They also make positive ones, as in blueberries, leading to a decrease in heart attacks.
A cohort study with 16,678 male and female participants found an over 30-percent reduction in coronary artery disease (including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks) for those with higher anthocyanin intake!
Another cohort study with 43,880 males found that those who consumed more anthocyanins had a 14% lower risk of nonfatal heart attacks.
For young and middle-aged women, the news is even better. Published in 2019, this 18-year follow-up study of 93,600 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) found the women (aged 25 to 42) consuming the most anthocyanins had a 32-percent lower incidence of heart attack than those consuming the least.
What Makes Blueberries and Heart Health Benefits so Hearty?
Flexible arteries allow our blood to flow more freely, and heart benefits may result from anthocyanin’s ability to reduce arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries).
Enjoy Blueberries and Heart Health Benefits with One to Two Portions Daily
Daily consumption of one to two portions of blueberries daily will make us healthier.
I love the way the Canadian and American research team concluded their abstract:
“… regular consumption of tasty, ripe blueberries can be unconditionally recommended.”