Why Blueberries are Irritatingly Good for You
Blueberries - we’ve all heard about how they’re a wonderful superfood, that they are a good source of antioxidants, and that they are delicious. They can be helpful for blood sugar regulation, help to prevent oxidative damage in different parts of the body, and have been touted as a healthful food for many years.
But, how does this work? Do little blueberry constituents get absorbed into our bloodstream and then gallivant around our bodies, rushing in to save the day by decreasing oxidation and inflammation? Turns out, this is not the case.
The main active constituent in blueberries is a group of molecules called proanthocyanidins - these are the ones that get all the credit for this antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. These molecules are slightly toxic to humans! It’s a little weird that something slightly toxic would be considered a superfood, right?
Here is what happens: we eat the blueberries, and we digestively absorb the active constituents into our bloodstream for a period of 15-20 minutes. This short time period is enough for our bodies to upregulate its own anti-inflammatory and antioxidant pathways to counteract the slight toxicity of the blueberries. So, it may seem that the blueberries themselves are helping you be a little healthier every time you eat them, but it’s your own body doing the important work!
See below for a delicious and simple blueberry recipe, and if you’d like to learn more about food choices and how they affect your body, schedule an appointment today!
Recipe: Blueberry-Cucumber-Mint Salad
FOR THE SALAD - In a salad bowl, combine:
- 2 medium cucumbers, sliced lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices
- 1½ cups fresh blueberries
- 4 scallions, sliced thinly
- ¾ cup crumbled feta (optional)
- You will also need: Generous handful mint, chopped (reserve for later)
FOR THE DRESSING - In a small bowl, combine:
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pour the dressing onto the salad. Finish the salad by adding freshly chopped mint. Enjoy!
- Ogawa K, Kuse Y, Tsuruma K, Kobayshi S, Shimazawa M, Hara H. Protective effects of bilberry and lingonberry extracts against blue light-emitting diode light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage in vitro. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;14(120).
- Son TG, Camandola S, Mattson M. Hormetic Dietary Phytochemicals. NeuroMolecular Medicine. 2016;10(236).