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What's Not to Love about Blueberries



There is everything to love about blueberries.  They are sweet and colorful with a lovely fresh fruity taste.  They can be frozen if you have too many to eat fresh - and they boost your heart health, your brain function and provide lots of other benefits too!

Here are the top ten tips of those health benefits:

1.  Blueberries are low in calories but definitely high in nutrients.  With just one cup serving, blueberries will give you Fiber: 4 grams, Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI, Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI, Manganese: 25% of the RDI and small amounts of various other nutrients.

 2.  The main antioxidant compounds found in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids which have the greatest impact.  Blueberries are so rich in antioxidants that they are excellent in protecting your body from free radicals - those unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases.

3.  Blueberries have the benefit of helping to reduce DNA damage.  When there is less damage, there is more protection against aging and other diseases. 

4.  The antioxidants in blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of oxidized LDL, meaning they are good for your heart health.  They protect the cholesterol in your blood from becoming damaged.

5.  High blood pressure is of course a major risk factor for heart disease but the good news is that blueberries are said to have benefits for those with high blood pressure with numerous studies finding that regular blueberry intake is linked to lower blood pressure.

6.  When you include blueberries in your diet, as well as lowering blood pressure, you can assist with oxidizing LDL cholesterol.  Some observational studies have found that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — the main antioxidants in blueberries — were at a lower risk of heart attacks. 

7.  The antioxidants in blueberries appear to benefit the brain by  aiding brain function and delaying mental decline.  The high level of antioxidants appear to benefit aging neurons.

8.  Blueberries only have moderate amounts of sugar when compared to other fruits and the anthocyanins in the fruit could be helpful.  In addition, the bioactive compounds in blueberries appear to outweigh any negative impact of the sugar when it comes to blood sugar control.  They have also been found to improve insulin sensitivity according to studies.

9.  A  common problem for women is a urinary tract infection and cranberry juice is well known as a natural remedy.  However, because blueberries are closely related to cranberries, they boast many of the same active substances as cranberry juice - substances that are called anti-adhesives and help prevent bacteria like E. coli from binding to the wall of the bladder.

10.  Another advantage of including blueberries in your diet is that they may even reduce muscle damage after one of those strenuous workouts.  Research is ongoing to confirm this benefit.



It is easy to have your own blueberries growing at home

Blueberries are good specimens to grow in pots and tubs for, as well as fruit, their flowers are abundant and pretty and their leaves color beautifully in the autumn - and the really do attract pollinators.

Plant them in barrels, tubs or pots that are big enough to give them room to grow.  When buying plants, look for patio blueberries because they are happiest in containers.  Pot them up one plant to a container and always use an ericaceous compost (which is acidic). 

Water the plants with rainwater if possible, as it is more acidic than tap water, but the most important thing is to not allow them to dry out.  So keep an eye on their water content especially in hot and sunny weather. 

When pot grown blueberries are in full growth, you can feed them with an ericaceous plant feed every 3 weeks or so.  Every two or three years, take them out of the pot and trim the roots a little (either at the end of autumn or in early spring) and pot them up again with some fresh ericaceous compost.

We have been growing blueberry patio plants in 3 large pots in our courtyard for several years and we have a great crop every August and September with a generous bowl of blueberries picked every day.  We don't worry to net our plants as one or two friendly blackbirds are welcome to come and enjoy some too - there is more than enough to share with the wildlife.  

Growing your own blueberries is a win win situation.



Appendix E-3.1.A2 | health.gov