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Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are a delicious fruit that contains several important nutrients.  It's easy to add blueberries to your diet by sprinkling them on cereal, adding them to low-fat muffins or pancakes and eating them in fruit salads and low-fat desserts.  As one of the world's healthiest foods, blueberries provide several health benefits and are relatively low in calories. 

Nutritional Information 

Blueberries contain over 30 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin C.  They also contain dietary fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer and prevent overeating or snacking in between meals.  Blueberries are also a good source of manganese and vitamin E.  One cup of blueberries contains just 81 calories, making them a low-calorie alternative to other snacks. 

Health Benefits 

Blueberries contain a phytonutrient known as anthocyanidins, which neutralize damage caused by free radicals in the tissues of the body.  Because this type of damage can lead to varicose veins, glaucoma, hemorrhoids, ulcers, cancer, heart disease and cataracts, blueberries are an important part of a diet that aims to prevent these conditions.  The bluish-red pigments in blueberries are known as anthocyanins.  These help to strengthen the vascular system, particularly the support structures of the veins.  These compounds work with vitamin C to improve the strength of the capillaries and stabilize the cells of the body.   

The antioxidant effects of blueberries can also help improve or protect against dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  Blueberries have also been shown to improve motor skills and learning abilities.  Ellagic acid, a compound found in blueberries, promotes good digestive health.  This compound works by blocking pathways that could contribute to the development of cancer.  Pectin is also found in blueberries, and offers the benefits of lowering cholesterol and preventing bile acid from being made cancerous.  The phenolic compounds found in blueberries can help to slow the growth of colon cancer cells and actually cause the death of these malignant cells.  Kaempferol, a flavonoid found in blueberries, can also reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

Warnings 

Blueberries are a healthful food that can be added to most diets successfully.  Avoid blueberries if you have ever had an allergic reaction to them.  It can be difficult to digest the skins of blueberries, so avoid them if they tend to cause digestive difficulties such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.  If you have diabetes, discuss your diet with your doctor before adding blueberries.  While they are low in calories, they do contain fruit sugars that may have an effect on your blood glucose levels.