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Blueberries: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, And More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:   

Blueberry, scientifically named Vaccinium, belongs to the family Ericaceae. Blueberries are considered ‘superfruit’ due to the abundant polyphenolic compound, which might show antioxidant capacity, and is sometimes exploited for its health-beneficial properties. The worldwide distributors of blueberries are the USA, Canada, China, and Chile.1-3

blueberries benefits

Blueberry has different common names based on their species, namely high bush, low bush, rabbiteye and European bilberry. The low bush blueberry species (Vaccinium angustifolum) are mostly edible.2,3

Did you know?

Nutritional Value of Blueberry: 

Blueberry has great functional ingredients that benefit human health.1 

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy 64 kcal 
Protein 0.7 g 
Total lipid (fat) 0.31 g 
Carbohydrate 14.6 g 
Sugar (total sugar) 9.36 g 
Calcium 12 mg 
Iron 0.34 mg 
Magnesium 6.2 mg 
Phosphorus 13 mg 
Potassium 86 mg 
Sodium <2 mg 
Zinc 0.09 mg 
Copper 0.046 mg 
Manganese 0.423 mg 
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 8.1 mg 
Biotin <3.7  µg 
Table 1: Nutritional value of blueberry per 100 grams4

  

Did you know that blueberries may have a positive impact on your vision? Studies suggest that the natural compounds called flavonoids found in blueberries can potentially improve the sensitivity of the cells in your eyes that capture light, known as retinal photoreceptors. While blueberries alone won’t guarantee perfect vision or ward off eye diseases, incorporating them into your diet as part of a healthy lifestyle may support your eye health.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Also Read: Apple: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Properties of Blueberry:

The beneficial properties of blueberry are:

  • It may act as an  antioxidant
  • It may have  anti-cancer activity
  • It may have body weight maintaining ability
  • It may have a blood sugar-lowering effect
  • It may have a  cholesterol-lowering effect
  • It may have a  blood pressure maintaining activity
  • It may have  antibacterial activity
  • It may have  anti-inflammatory action
  • It may benefit  liver health
  • It may have immunity enhancing effect
  • It may benefit  brain health
  • It may benefit  lung health.1

Also Read: Beetroot: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Boost your daily nutrient intake with the goodness of blueberries! A one-cup serving of blueberries provides significant amounts of essential vitamins. You’ll have consumed 24% of your daily vitamin C intake, 5% of your daily vitamin B6 requirement, and a whopping 36% of your daily vitamin K need.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Blueberry:

Potential Uses of Blueberry for Blood Sugar

Blueberries are rich in anthocyanin, which may have antioxidant activity. It might be beneficial in reducing the oxidative stress and might play  a crucial role in blood sugar management- An increase in blood sugar levels are characterised by a poor response to insulin stimulation. The anthocyanin-rich blueberry might decrease glucose intolerance.

In a cross-sectional study involving women conducted by Jennings et al. 2014, showed that higher consumption of blueberries results in improvements in insulin resistance. Thus, it may be beneficial for  managing blood sugar levels in humans.1,2

However, this study is insufficient. Therefore, there is a need for more studies to develop the positive effect of blueberries on blood sugar management.

PharmEasy Recommends – Accu Chek Instant Blood Glucose Meter With 10 Test Strip

Potential Uses of Blueberry for Cancer

Blueberry might be helpful in reducing the spread and enhancing the death of cancer cells. It might also  minimise  chances of cancer development and the risk of recurrence of cancer. But the actual mechanism is unknown. A laboratory study (Minker C  et al. 2015) showed that  lowbush type blueberry is composed of proanthocyanidins (antioxidant) which may have  the ability to kill cancer cells in human colon cancer cell lines; thus, it might be an essential anti-cancer agent for colon cancer.1

According to an animal model study by Lin W et al., 2017, blueberry consumption might decrease tumour size and inhibit ovarian cancer cells by regulating levels of some enzymes.1

This information is insufficient as these studies are done in laboratories and not on humans. Therefore, more studies on humans are required to back this claim. Consequently, we advise you to speak to your concerned doctors and only have blueberries as a medicine.

Blueberries – A Natural Defense Against Bladder Infections!”
Did you know that blueberries, just like cranberries, may have protective properties against bladder infections? These incredible berries contain substances that can hinder bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder, potentially reducing the risk of infection.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Potential Uses of Blueberry for Weight Management

In an animal model study by Lee et al. 2014, intake of blueberry leaf extract showed a reduction of 20% in body weight. However, blueberry extract might be considered for managing weight. . The freeze-dried blueberry powder may be useful in managing overweight-related long-term issues.1 A human study conducted by Bertoia et al. 2015-16revealed that blueberry intake resulted in less weight gain during ageing.2

This information is insufficient. Further, more studies are needed to support the potential use of blueberries for human weight loss management. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical advice from a doctor before consuming blueberries to keep a check on your weight.

PharmEasy Recommends – True Elements Dried Blueberries 

Potential Uses of Blueberry for Brain Health

Blueberry has an antioxidant activity which might help to reduce oxidative stress caused due to free reactive oxygen species in the brain. The daily consumption of blueberry juice might be beneficial for degenerative diseases.  It might benefit in proper blood flow to the brain in healthy older adults. It might also enhance memory and delay the degeneration of the brain cells.1

US cohort studies on humans conducted by Gao et al. 2012, showed a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease upon intake of blueberry. Cognitive (thinking, reasoning and remembering) performance in the other adults and the elderly were observed to have improved after intake of blueberry powder.2

However, we require more studies to support the beneficial effect of blueberries on maintaining brain health. This information is insufficient and it is necessary to take a doctor’s advice before using blueberries.

Potential Uses of Blueberry for the Eyes:

Blueberries may enhance vision. Therefore, the consumption of blueberries may have some effect to recover visual sharpness. Anthocyanins in blueberry might contribute to eye health and reduce retinal (retina is a part of the eye) diseases. Blueberry might shield the retina from light-induced injury.1

This information is insufficient. Therefore, further research is needed to say that blueberries might benefit eye health.

Did you know that blueberries can be your ally in recovering from strenuous exercise? Studies suggest that blueberry supplements may help reduce muscle damage that occurs at a molecular level, leading to less soreness and improved muscle performance.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, MD

Potential Uses of Blueberry for Heart Health

Blueberry may have shielding effects against coronary heart disease. It may also be used to manage hypertension (high blood pressure), thus it may be beneficial for providing defence against cardiovascular (related to the heart and blood vessels) diseases.1,2

This information is not sufficient. We require more studies on humans to back this claim. Of course, you can always consult a qualified doctor before using blueberries to self-medicate.

Other Potential Uses of Blueberries:

  • Blueberries are used as a functional food. It may have properties to manage inflammation-related problems.2
  • Blueberry may also have modest benefits in the memory performance.2

Although studies show the benefits of blueberries in different health conditions, this information is insufficient. Hence, there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent to put forth the benefits of blueberries on human health. Furthermore, every person may respond differently to blueberries. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before using blueberry preparations for any medical condition.

Also Read: Pear: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Blueberries? 

Blueberries can be used in the following ways:

  • Blueberries are delicate and often eaten as fresh fruit.
  • They can be processed into shelf-stable products like juices, canned fruit, jams, marmalade, and preserves.1
  • They can be freeze-dried or made up into powdered form.1,5

People must consult a professional physician before having any herbal supplements made from blueberries. We advise you not to change or discontinue your ongoing medications with any ayurvedic or herbal preparations without talking to an Ayurvedic doctor. They will recommend you the best form and dosage to have it.

Also Read: Elderberry Benefits: A Deep Dive into Its Research-Backed Health Effects

Side Effects of Blueberries:  

The side effects associated with blueberry are:

  • No major study reports the side effects of  blueberry.
  •  However, the prevalence of blueberry allergic reactions may be observed. Children may develop symptoms such as shortness of breath and back itching after ingestion of blueberry fruit.5 A doctor should be immediately consulted to prevent any health issues during such allergic reactions.
  • Blueberry fruit or its leaves might lower the blood pressure as well as they might drop blood sugar levels below average.3

However, if you experience any side effects, seek immediate medical attention from your doctors who have prescribed it to you. They will be the best guide to provide you with proper treatment.

Also Read: Tamarind: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Precautions to Take With Blueberries:  

The following precautions should be taken while consuming blueberries:

  • There is no sufficient information currently available to consider the safe use of blueberries for pregnant and breastfeeding women. . But, safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is necessary, so a doctor’s advice is always recommended.3
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is a genetic disorder. People with this disorder must consult a doctor before consuming blueberry to stay safe and prevent health disorders.3
  • People who have undergone surgery should take precautions because blueberry consumption might affect their blood sugar levels.3 Always go with your doctor’s advice and take only the prescribed diet given to you during these times.
  • Allergic reactions might develop in children; hence extra precaution should be taken when giving blueberries to young children.5  Children require special attention. So if any issues develop, consult a doctor.
  • Without consulting a doctor, people should not use blueberries to self-medicate themselves.

Interactions With Other Drugs:

  • Blueberry juice might interfere with certain enzymes, which help to metabolise warfarin (anticoagulant drug). Thus, blueberry juice may lead to an increased risk of bleeding.6
  • Any diet modification should be consulted first with your doctor to prevent adverse drug reactions. Doctors will be the best person to direct you on the better way to have blueberries as a herb.

Also Read: Kokum: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects And More!

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs):

What is the role of blueberry in bone density?

Blueberry may be beneficial in increasing bone mineral density during bone metabolism, reducing the risk of bone loss. Blueberry contains an excess amount of anthocyanin and calcium, which may help strengthen the bones and reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis (a condition of weak bones).1 However, more studies are required to support the benefits of blueberry on maintaining bone density. Therefore, it is best to take the advice of a doctor.

What makes the berry appear blue?

One of the flavonoids, anthocyanidins, imparts a blue colour to the berry after complete ripening.1

Can blueberries benefit heart diseases?

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries may be helpful for various heart diseases.The heart diseases may be decreased due to the inhibition of soluble angiotensin (hormone) that increases blood pressure. The lipid-lowering effect of blueberries might also decrease in heart-related issues.1 However, this information is insufficient and requires more studies to provide the scope of blueberries in heart-related problems.

Which vitamins are present in blueberry?

Blueberry contains vitamin C and vitamin B-6 (biotin).1

What are the symptoms of allergic reactions to blueberries?

Allergic reactions to blueberries may showsymptoms like shortness of breath and back itching after eating blueberry fruit. Immediate medical attention is required if you experience such symptoms.5

References: 

1. Ma L, Sun Z, Zeng Y, Luo M, Yang J. Molecular Sciences Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Functional Ingredients in Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings. [cited 2022 May 21]; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164568/pdf/ijms-19-02785.pdf 

2. Kalt W, Cassidy A, Howard LR, Krikorian R, Stull AJ, Tremblay F, et al. Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins. [cited 2022 May 22]; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442370/pdf/nmz065.pdf 

3. Blueberry: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 21]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1013.html 

4. FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 13]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2263889/nutrients 

5. Dereci S, Orhan F, Koca T, Akcam M. Prevalence of blueberry allergy in a Turkish population. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology [Internet]. 2015 Mar 1 [cited 2022 May 22];114(3):259–60. Available from: : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2014.12.016 

6. Paolo D, Benedetti A, di Paolo A, Giannese D, Cupisti A. Citation: Interactions between Food and Drugs, and Nutritional Status in Renal Patients: A Narrative Review. 2022. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14010212 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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