This is the second post of Fruits With Benefits: Eating Healthy From A to Z.
To see the complete series, click here.
Hello Monday! Hope your weekend was restful. Let’s start off this week without moaning :)
Enjoying smoother skin now? Good – say thanks to your avocado. Every other Monday I’ll be filling you up with a juicy fruit that quells your sugar cravings and fully satisfies your appetite. With bite-sized information and easy-to-grab fruits, I aim to make you eat more of these goods so you can feel good and look good.
I am a huge lover of fruits. My mother made me eat an apple everyday since I was very young. Thanks to her, I had a love-hate relationship with apples for a while. But now that I’m 22 and ripe, I’ve grown to enjoy the sweet treats so much that I can’t imagine living a day without fruits. It’s become a second nature for me to grab a Fuji apple off the fridge every morning when I wake up. I even have fruit cravings, and most of the time it’s either mangoes or avocados.
However, I am not a registered dietician or other qualified medical practitioner, and this post is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Make sure you always consult with your physician before making any dietary changes.
Just for the love of blueberries, allow me to share my love for it with you today.
– Image courtesy of Laura Friendly
Hailed as one of the richest source of antioxidants, blueberries make a popular fruit choice for those who are watching what they eat and taking preventive care of their health.
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?
In a nutshell, antioxidants are all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients touted for their anti-aging, waist-trimming, memory-improving, immune-boosting, cancer-preventing, and vision-clearing effects on the human body.
Sounds too good to be true right?
But before we get to how antioxidants work, let’s begin with their foe – free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules produced whenever your body uses oxygen to break down food or when you’re simply breathing. These are the same molecules that are responsible for your skin to show signs of aging. These metabolic by-products are also produced by external factors, including tobacco from smoke and UV rays from the sun.
Because free radicals are made up of unstable molecules, they react quickly to neighboring compounds in order to stabilize their state, turning the affected compound into free radicals too. When this happens, free radicals can potentially interfere with your immune system and even induce cellular DNA damage. Researchers believe that the tarnishing effects of free radicals are the leading cause to various types of cancer.
Antioxidants function to repair the damaged cells caused by free radicals and to protect against these harmful effects. By stabilizing them, antioxidants reverse oxidative damage when they interact with the free radicals lurking throughout your body.
Just as with free radicals, your body naturally produces antioxidants. But you can boost levels of it by eating antioxidant-rich foods. Compared to other berries, blueberries boast more than twice the amount of natural antioxidants in a single serving. Just take a look at the numerous benefits the blues provide for your health, even when you only eat them in small amounts:
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES
- Vitamin K – Vitamin K encourages healthy blood clotting. This means healing wounds and preventing excessive menstrual bleeding for women. Normally found in green leafy vegetables, this fat-soluble vitamin promotes bone health and prevents the loss of its mineral density as you age. Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin K. One cup of fresh blueberries provides 36% of your daily recommended intake of the calcifying vitamin.
- Manganese – Manganese can be found in the bones, liver, pancreas, kidneys, pituitary and adrenals glands, and the brain. This trace mineral is important to maintain healthy skin and bones. As an enzyme activator, manganese is essential for stabilizing blood sugar levels, controlling cholesterol metabolism, and maintaining proper nervous system function. Though deficiency is a rare case, not getting enough manganese slows down collagen production and may cause abnormal skeletal development.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C makes collagen that keeps your skin, muscles, tendons, bones, cartilage, ligaments, blood vessels, and gum healthy. It is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. Like the avocado, just one cup of blueberries provides you 24% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Regular consumption of blueberries keeps skin and hair from drying while preventing brittle nails and wrinkles.
- Dietary Fiber – Eating blueberries regularly provides you the indigestible roughage to encourage a healthy digestive system and to prevent constipation. Fiber also helps you feel fuller longer to promote weight loss. With only 84 calories per cup and about 85% of its calorie content as water, blueberries are a great alternative to sugary treats if your goal is to lose weight.
- Anthocyanins – Anthocyanins are those vibrant pigments that make the skin of fruits and vegetables so colorful. Aside from warding off high blood pressure, the plant-based antioxidant carries potent compounds that prevent various types of cancer. Studies also show that anthocyanins are vital for eye health – they improve eyesight, ease eye fatigue, and protect the eye’s retina from damage from sunlight.
According to a recent study published on Circulation, women between ages 25 to 42 who eat three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week benefit from up to one-third decrease of heart attack compared to women who eat less of the berries.
Also, multiple studies conducted in Spain showed that men with normal semen quality frequent more antioxidants in their diets compared to those with poor semen quality.
“The take-home lesson is that even if you are eating these early in life, you’re getting benefits that last for life,” says cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, who directs the women and heart disease department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “When we’re making choices in our 20s, we may think that a burger and fries is great, but the message is that there are alternatives that make a difference for the rest of your life,” Steinbaum explains to TIME.
Whether you are in your 20s, 30s, or 50s, you can very well enjoy the umpteen benefits blueberries offer for your health. Here I’ve found some of the simplest ways you can start including more blueberries into your diet right now:
3 SIMPLE WAYS TO ENJOY BLUEBERRIES
- Have a slice of Laura Friendly’s Blueberry Cheesecake. It’s a no-bake recipe!
- Snack on it: Simply grab a handful whenever you’re having the sugar cravings :) I usually sprinkle the blues on my morning oatmeal.
- Make your morning brighter with this luscious Blueberry Banana Smoothie. I feel full and energized all morning with just one glass of this freshness.