8 Health Benefits Wild Blueberries Can Add to Your Products
Americans are hungrier than ever for foods that will help them heal, live longer, and stave off disease, weight gain, and the insults of aging. In fact, Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability consumers (LOHAS) represent a $290 billion dollar market.
Wild Blueberries—low-calorie fruits that are brimming with flavor, antioxidants, fiber, and disease-fighting nutrients —can help you tap into that fertile market.
Nearly 3 out of 4 LOHAS consumers believe wild foods are healthier and tastier than cultivated varieties, and two thirds say that they are willing to buy more wild foods, and pay more for them, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Portland Marketing Analytics, a Maine-based research firm.
Here are eight compelling health benefits that make Wild Blueberries a valuable addition to your products and recipes:
1. Wild Blueberries are diet-friendly. With just 80 calories per one-cup serving Wild Blueberries are ideal for weight-conscious consumers. And given that Wild Blueberries have 30% less sugar than cultivated varieties—with just 10 grams of sugar per cup— they’ll appeal to those low-carb dieters who are wary of even naturally sweet stuff. What’s more, Wild Blueberries are a low-glycemic food, scoring 53 on the 100-point Glycemic Index, which ranks foods according to how they impact blood sugar levels (higher scoring foods raise blood sugar more than those with lower scores).
2. Wild foods provide unique disease-protecting power.One cup of Wild Blueberries has twice as much iron as cultivated varieties, more than four times as much zinc, twice as much fiber and antioxidants, and eight times as much manganese. “In the centuries that Wild Blueberries have grown and naturally spread on Maine and Canada’s rugged coastlines, they have developed powerful compounds that helped them adapt to environmental stresses and survive,” says Dr. Mary Ann Lila, Ph. D and director of the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. “When we eat those wild foods, those same natural plant compounds protect us from inflammation and chronic disease,” Lila says.
3. Wild Blueberries are packed with age-proofing antioxidants.Wild Blueberries get their rich blue hue from antioxidants, which help protect the body from free radicals—unstable molecules generated by pollution, sunlight, heavy exercise, and other stressors—which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions. “If you want to keep aging at bay, in terms of your skin, heart, eyesight and brain function, you’re not going to go wrong choosing fruits and vegetables that have antioxidants,” said Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD, nutrition advisor to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. “Wild Blueberries are a concentrated source of them.” One cup of Wild Blueberries hasmore antioxidant power than 20 other fruits and vegetables, including cranberries, grapes, and even cultivated blueberries, according to a May 2010 analysis by the USDA.
4. Wild Blueberries can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Blueberries improve memory and brain function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment—a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, according toresearch presented in March 2016 to the American Chemical Society. Researchers attribute the benefit to compounds called anthocyanins, which have shown the same effect in animal studies.
5. Wild Blueberries may boost concentration in school-aged kids. A 2015 study showed that Wild Blueberries boost concentration and memory in elementary school-aged children. After consuming 1.75 cups of Wild Blueberries, 7 to 10-year-olds were better able to remember information and tune out distractions.
6. Wild Blueberries lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes.A growing body of research reveals that Wild Blueberries can mitigate some of the symptoms that are characteristic of metabolic syndrome, a condition that can increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Wild Blueberries reduced chronic inflammation in animals—an underlying factor of metabolic syndrome. Additional studies showed that Wild Blueberries lowered cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintaining HDL (or good cholesterol) levels.
7. Wild Blueberries boost heart health.According to research, consuming Wild Blueberries daily can help blood vessels function better, supporting circulation and heart health, which may help stave off heart disease. Other studies have shown that consumption of anthocyanins, like the ones in Wild Blueberries, is associated with a lower risk of heart attack among women.
8. Wild Blueberries may help beat some cancers. New research shows that eating blueberries may have the potential to help stall the growth of a difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer. In animal studies blueberries demonstrated the ability to control tumor growth, decrease metastasis and induce cell death in cases of triple negative breast cancer, (TNBC), a particularly aggressive form of the disease.
Even beyond these eight health benefits, Wild Blueberries add incredible flavor and color to any recipe. “It’s a case where the answer to the question ‘what should I have?’ lines up nicely with what tastes good,” said Broihier.
To learn more about the health benefits of Wild Blueberries, check out the research library of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America.