Blueberries: antioxidant powerhouse?

The grandad of the superfood trend, this cute little North American fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch.

Valued for its high levels of antioxidants, some nutritionists believe that if you make only one change to your diet, it should be to add blueberries.

Die-hards claim blueberries can help protect against heart disease and some cancers, as well as improve your memory.

We've teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to examine the evidence to see if blueberries live up to their hype.

Blueberries are a good source of vitamin K. They also contain vitamin C, fibre, manganese and other antioxidants (notably anthocyanins)

The evidence

Heart health
A study in 2012 of 93,000 women found that participants who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% lower risk of a heart attack compared with those who ate berries once a month or less. However, the study could not prove that these fruits definitely caused the lower risk.

Cancer
There is so far very little evidence that blueberries can help protect against cancer. In laboratory studies on cells and animals, blueberry extracts (such as anthocyanins) have been shown to decrease free radical damage that can cause cancer. It is not clear how well humans absorb these compounds from eating blueberries and more research is needed.

Improved memory
A number of small studies have found a link between blueberry consumption and improved spatial learning and memory. However, most of these studies relied on small sample groups or animals. More research is needed to provide a conclusive link between eating blueberries and improved memory.


The dietitian's verdict

Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, says: "Blueberries are a fantastic choice as one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 

"They are low in calories and high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds with an antioxidant capacity significantly higher than vitamins C or E.   

"Try adding them to your breakfast cereal, including them in a packed lunch or mixing with low-fat yoghurt for a delicious dessert."


More on superfoods

Check out the evidence behind the health claims made about these other so-called superfoods:

Page last reviewed: 12/06/2013

Next review due: 12/06/2015

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

pregmary said on 17 July 2013

Bluberries!.My favourite!

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Superfoods: the evidence

We examine the evidence behind the health claims of the most popular superfoods