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Some surprising benefits of blueberries

FALLBROOK – Small, yet bursting with big flavor, blueberries are a favorite of so many people. While blueberries may be coveted for their appeal in recipes that run the gamut from breakfast foods to desserts, the nutrients within them provide many benefits as well. After all, blueberries are not called "superfoods" for nothing.

Here's a deeper look at some of the health benefits of blueberries.

1. Blueberries are a low-calorie food. Healthline notes that blueberries contain only 84 calories per cup. Plus, they are 85% water. Blueberries can be a filling snack that doesn't compromise low-calorie diets.

2. Blueberries may improve exercise recovery rates. Research published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health in 2018 has shown that eating blueberries can increase muscle strength recovery. That means that blueberries may help thwart a condition called exercise-induced muscle damage, which results in soreness, reduced muscle strength and impaired athletic performance.

3. Blueberries help fight urinary tract infections. Cranberries are often touted as the go-to for treating and preventing UTIs. According to a 1998 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, specific compounds found in blueberries known as proanthocyanidins can prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Furthermore, the high amounts of vitamin C in blueberries also can inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause UTIs.

4. Blueberries may thwart cancer. Phytochemicals in blueberries decrease the risk of several cancers by protecting cells from chronic inflammation, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. In addition, the fiber in blueberries helps protect the intestinal lining from colorectal cancer.

5. Blueberries help build stronger bones. Blueberries are rich in phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin K. These nutrients, together with strength-training exercise, can contribute to bone health.

6. Blueberries lower bad cholesterol. The fiber in blueberries may help dissolve LDL cholesterol, also known as "bad" cholesterol, in the bloodstream. A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics determined daily consumption of blueberries helped to improve blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women.

7. Blueberries improve immune function. The blue in blueberries comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that increases immune function. The Mayo Clinic also says research indicates compounds in blueberries may delay the effects of vascular dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

8. Blueberries may be an anti-aging treatment. Oxidative DNA damage occurs in every cell in the body each day, according to Healthline. DNA damage is one reason why people grow older. High antioxidants in blueberries can neutralize some free radicals that are implicated in DNA damage.

Blueberries get their superfood status from the number of health benefits they offer.


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