Blueberries are delicious, but aside from their palatable flavor, eating them comes with some great health benefits.
Sarah Johnson, post-doc at Florida State University, touts the benefits of consuming blueberries.
Sarah Johnson is the assistant director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging at Florida State. Her clinical research focuses on the role of functional foods, bioactive components, dietary supplements, and other nutrition interventions in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and conditions.
It’s no surprise to most people that blueberries are good for you. They’re low in calories but are nutrient dense and include something called phytochemicals.
But like many other fruits and vegetables, they are also considered functional foods, or foods that have a positive effect on your health beyond basic nutrition.
When I started my career as a researcher, I became interested in showing how functional foods could possibly prevent or reverse negative health outcomes, particularly for postmenopausal women.
Postmenopausal women run a higher risk for a number of health complications, including osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. So, we set out to find if we could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by doing something as simple as having individuals consume one cup of blueberries daily.
We recruited 48 women to participate in our study who were all postmenopausal and who had pre or stage 1 hypertension. Over eight weeks, we gave these women either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder — the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries — or a placebo powder. In the meantime, participants were encouraged to continue with their normal eating and exercise habits.
What we found at the end of the eight weeks really excited us. There was a 5.1 percent drop in overall systolic blood pressure, or the number on top of the blood pressure reading that measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. There was also an overall 6.3 percent reduction in diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number measuring the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
There was also a reduction in arterial stiffness.
Other studies have shown similar results, but have given participants much larger doses of blueberries. In the future, we hope to do more work by looking at longer intervention periods and other sample populations to see if they would also reap the positive benefits of this delicious fruit.