Thanks to their richness in vitamins and polyphenols, both blue and red cranberries play a very important nutraceutical and phototherapeutic role, confirmed by multiple scientific studies. In addition to its great taste, consuming blueberries becomes an excellent ally for health. It helps prevent and treat diseases and is even ideal in diabetes and against the accumulation of fat.
Properties and benefits
The beneficial properties of blueberries and their colour or the deliciously fresh and sweet taste with a sour and slightly bitter point, depending on their chemical composition.
The most prominent components of blueberries are phenolic compounds and micronutrients:
Glycosylated anthocyanins (such as marlin, cyaniding, definition, Maldivian, peonidin, and petunidin), or anthocyanosides. These are pigments that give them their characteristic colour and are found in a higher proportion in wild blueberries with dark flesh. A potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and platelet aggregation control properties are attributed to these compounds because, together with the vasodilator action of other substances, they constitute essential prevention for all disorders of the cardiovascular system.
Proanthocyanidins and tannins, other high molecular weight phenol compounds. These chemicals are potent vasoconstrictors and anti-inflammatory agents. In this way, they reduce the symptoms of various pathologies that have an inflammatory response as a critical element. Tannins also help to counteract diarrhoea and improve irritations of the mouth and throat, reducing inflammation.
Organic acids and stableness such as resveratrol are also found in black grapes and are known for their anti-cancer effect.
Blueberries also contain a wide variety of micronutrients:
Essential minerals such as manganese (100 g of blueberries provide 20% of what is needed per day).
Vitamins they stand out among the fruit for being incredibly rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin necessary for collagen formation and the reinforcement of the immune system, and several vitamins of group B.
When to eat blueberries?
Scientifically proven indications
Cranberry is considered a beneficial nutraceutical superfood in multiple situations.
Useful against diarrhoea
Consuming 20-60 grams of fresh blueberries a day is enough to counteract diarrhea due to tannins and anthocyanins. On the other hand, it is not surprising that it is recommended not to exaggerate with its consumption to people with a tendency to constipation.
To obtain benefits and reduce inflammation or infections of the mouth and throat, it is recommended to take them as a decoction (5 – 10 minutes) prepared with 5-10 g of fruits 2-3 times a day.
Strengthen blood capillaries
Anthocyanosides improve microcirculation and are useful in cases of capillary fragility.
For this reason, for example, blueberries are effective in treating damage to the retina and capillary fragility and permeability of the eye. Non-scientific sources also suggest blueberries’ consumption improves sight and sharpen night vision, although the most recent clinical studies do not seem to confirm this efficacy.
Useful against venous insufficiency, cellulite, fluid retention, haemorrhoids, and varicose veins
The positive effect of cranberry anthocyanosides in increasing capillary resistance and decreasing vascular permeability (anti-edema action), associated with its slightly diuretic action, cranberry has proven to be a portion of incredibly good food in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, haemorrhoids, and anaesthetics associated with circulatory problems, such as cellulite, fluid retention, varicose veins.
Improve cognitive functions and avoid diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Blueberries have substances such as gallic acid that play a vital role as neuroprotective agents, mainly due to their remarkable ability to combat oxidative degeneration phenomena. Several studies indicate that regular consumption of blueberries prevents the development of certain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, preventing the oxidation of cells in the brain, or slowing down the cognitive decline associated with them. The intake of blueberries is part of the specific recommendations of the DIET MIND for the elderly and subjects with neurodegenerative diseases (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)
Good for lowering blood pressure and fighting “bad” cholesterol
Other studies, such as recent research from the University of Florida, point to blueberries’ effectiveness in reducing and regulating blood pressure. Blueberries would also lower triglycerides, increase the liver synthesis of good or HDL cholesterol, and inhibit the accumulation of bad or LDL cholesterol. These effects also help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Eating blueberries improves diabetes: How?
Several recent types of research support theories that blueberry may have hypoglycemic properties by reducing and stabilizing blood sugar levels. That is, it would improve the body’s response to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, which helps the body metabolize carbohydrates correctly and prevents blood sugar spikes, and it would prevent the accumulation of fat. According to some studies, this effect would be more due to the leaves’ active ingredients and, therefore, more evident when taking the decoction of the leaves
On the other hand, blueberry’s ability to improve blood circulation makes it a doubly fruit for subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus, who generally have it compromised (for example, in the eye).
Say goodbye to urine infections
Despite having a lower therapeutic effect than the variety with blue fruits, the cranberry is a good ally for health. Scientific studies have confirmed its efficacy in the prevention and treatment of urinary infection so much that the provision of cranberry extracts is part of the conventional treatment of cystitis.
Its active ingredients act through a double effect. On the one hand, the abundance of organic acids increases the urine’s acidity and prevents pathogenic bacteria (usually Escherichia coli ) from attaching to the bladder walls and multiplying. On the other, the flavonoids in cranberry play a de-inflammatory role.
Therefore, it is a beneficial superfood for women and even more so during pregnancy, a stage in which urinary infections become more frequent.
Finally, several studies have shown that cranberry components also act against digestive infections, both bacterial and viral. For example, they would prevent bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori from attaching to the stomach lining and causing ulcers and even cancer.
Although the scientific evidence is not as strong, blueberry is often recommended for other conditions, for example, in case of painful menstruation, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, osteoarthritis, gout, skin infections, kidney and gastrointestinal diseases.