There are many good reasons for loving whole fruit wild blueberries’ unique color. Anthocyanins – the pigment responsible for that rich purplish blue color – are full of health-promoting antioxidants. In addition, wild blueberries are prized because they are:
- High in vitamin C
- Rich in dietary fiber
- Fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free
- Only 80 calories per cup
The antioxidants in anthocyanins put up a fight against the bad guys
The body uses antioxidants to fight compounds called free radicals, a hazardous byproduct of breathing, exercising and digesting. Unchecked free radicals can lead to cancer and heart disease, premature aging and other diseases. In a USDA study of 40 fruits and vegetables, whole fruit wild blueberries were found to have the highest antioxidant level.
As people age, antioxidants become even more important. That’s because the body’s defenses weaken, which may allow free radicals to cause more damage. Older people may experience decreased motor ability and suffer from memory loss. A preliminary USDA study using aging rats found that wild blueberries may protect against these problems. Older rats fed wild blueberries showed improved short-term memory and motor skills over older rats that weren’t fed wild blueberries. And since antioxidants help skin retain elasticity, whole fruit wild blueberries may also help fight the visible signs of aging.
Wild blueberries also contain tannins, which may help protect against urinary tract infections (UTIs). Tannins help prevent UTI-causing bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder and urinary tract. This enables the bacteria to instead harmlessly pass through the body.
In addition to all this, whole fruit wild blueberries are being studied for many other benefits, including:
- Eye health: The wild blueberry may help relieve eye strain, and are known as ‘the vision fruit’ in Japan for that reason. Studies have shown that the wild blueberry’s cousin may improve night vision and may help eyes adapt to different light levels. Future studies will examine how wild blueberries may affect vision problems related to diabetes.
- Support in the fight against cancer: Wild blueberries contain compounds that may help protect against cancer. Whole fruit blueberries may also block cancer cells from duplicating.
Whole fruit wild blueberries contain the same types of dark anthocyanin pigments as found in red wine. Those anthocyanins have been proven to lower the risk of heart disease. It may therefore be reasonable to think that the nutritionally potent whole fruit wild blueberry may also contribute to lower heart disease risk.