6 Blueberries’ Key Health Benefits and Healthy Evidence

Blueberries are naturally colored blue. Like other colorful fruits and vegetables, blueberries have the ability to subdue oxygen free radicals. A 2010 study by the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Aging found that blueberries contain the highest levels of antioxidant in comparison with 40 fruits and vegetables. Scientists found that several blueberries phytochemical compounds may play combat chronic disease. Let’s have a look at the blueberries’ key health benefits and the healthy evidence. In this post, I also mention some research of bilberries, European blueberries.

Blueberries have the excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese and high levels of various antioxidants. The main phenolic compounds in blueberries are:
    • Flavonoids: Anthocyanins, Flavonols, Flavanols (catechin)
    • Phenolic acids: Cinnamic acids, Benzoic acids
    • Complex phenolic polymers (polymeric tannins): Ellagitannins, Proanthocyanidins
Each of main phenolic compounds in blueberries has contributed to the different health benefits.

1.    Powerful Antioxidant benefits

A 100 gram of blueberries contains 2400 ORAC units. ORAC is the oxygen radical absorbency capacity to quantify the antioxidant capacity of foods. The antioxidant capacity in 100 grams of fresh blueberries  equals with five fruit and vegetable servings. Antioxidants are the active component for Anti-inflammation, (arthritis, osteoarthritis) and Metabolic syndrome (obesity). The key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in blueberries are Anthocyanins. This flavonoid phenolic compound gives blueberries blue color.
Blueberries are also rich in phenolic compounds. The phenolic compounds can capture free radicals, deactivating or eliminating them from the body.
A research of the University of California found that blueberries may reduce the “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

2.  Natural Anti-aging properties

Blueberry antioxidants are thought to delay aging by their natural cleansing properties. Vitamins and minerals in blueberry might clean the blood. The USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) lab have discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats can slow  age-related loss in their mental capacity. The high antioxidant activity of blueberries may play a role.

3. Support the cancer prevention

Bioactive compounds in blueberries support the prevention of many cancers including breast, colon, esophageal, liver, ovarian, and prostate. Here are how blueberries phenolic compounds support the cancer prevention.
  • Anthocyanins, blueberries main flavonoids acts as an antioxidant.  Flavonoids affect cell proliferation and help regulate cancer signal transduction pathways.
  • Kaempferol (flavonoid phytonutrient) in blueberry can lower 40 percent the risk of developing ovarian in women. Others Kaempferol-rich foods are non-herbal tea, onions, kale, and spinach.
  • Blueberries also contain moderate quantities of Resveratrol. Resveratrol influences cancer at the initiation, promotion, and progression stages during the development of cancer. It can induce apoptosis in various cancer cells without killing normal cells. Resveratrol also aids in the reduction of inflammatory diseases.
  • Black raspberry, red raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry seed flours inhibit the proliferation of human HT29 colon cancer cell line.
  • Blueberry flavonoids have also inhibited the activities of enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The enzymes play a significant role in cancer metastasis. A 2006 study found that anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin-enriched blueberry fractions down- regulate MMP activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells. They found that  decreases in MMP are possible involvement of protein kinase-C and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in the flavonoid.  The research concluded that the down-regulation of MMP activities by the blueberry flavonoids might occur through many mechanisms.

4. Support colon and combats Urinary Tract Infections.

Blueberries are rich in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Both fibers may help to reduce constipation and aid in digestive health. Tannins in blueberries also help to “cleanse” the colon because tannins have an astringent effect.
Like cranberries, blueberries have the compounds that prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). These compound can fight against the bacteria that causes most UTIs and  from gaining a hold on the bladder wall. A research of Rutgers University in New Jersey has identified a compound in blueberries that promote urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. Blueberry’s compound prevent bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.

5. Help night vision and eyesight problems

Anthocyanin in blueberries can aid vision especially at night, ease pain in the eyes, and promote sharper vision.  Anthocyanins boost the production of rhodopsin, a pigment that improves night vision and helps the eye adapt to light changes.
Scientists in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries( European blueberries) and improved eyesight. Studies found that bilberry extract taken in combination with 20 mg of beta-carotene a day may improve an adaption to light and night vision. Researchers thought this result occurred because of the Anthocyanins in the blue pigment.
A 2001 study in Japan documented that blueberries helped ease eye fatigue. In the study, 50 patients with senile cataracts used a combination of bilberry extract with 25% anthocyanosisdes and vitamin E twice daily for four months. The extract stopped the progression of cataracts in 96% of the patients treated compared to 76% in the control group.
The consumption of bilberry extract may also protect us against the development of glaucoma, or damage to the optic nerve. In a Thorne Research Inc study, eight patients with glaucoma used a dose of 200mg Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. The patient conditions had the improvement due to bilberries’ collagen enhancing and antioxidant properties.

6. Promote cognitive function

Blueberry-rich diets also improve motor skills and the learning capacity of animals and human. Researchers found that  people who used a cup of blueberries a day have performed 5–6% better on motor skills tests than who didn’t use.  For that reason, adding blueberries to our daily diets help preserve cognitive function and improve working memory.
In a study of USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) fed mice blueberry extractions—the equal of a human eating one cup of blueberries a day. The study found the blueberry-fed mice performed better in motor behavioral learning and memory than normal mice.  The scientists also noticed an increase in exploratory behavior.  When examined mice brains they found a marked decrease in oxidative stress in two regions of the brain. The mice better retention of signal-transmitting neurons compared with the control mice. So that the blueberries’ antioxidants offer protection of brain cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can exacerbate the effects of age-related cognitive decline.
These are 6 blueberries’ key health benefits and Healthy evidence. I hope you do not get bored with dry information. For better living, we can add blueberries into our daily diet. Blueberries will support and protect us from cancer, antioxidant, and other chronic diseases.
 

3 basic and simple Blueberry smoothie recipes


Blueberry is one of the richest food sources of natural antioxidants. This fruit has high amount of oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC). Orac is a measure of food’s ability to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from ageing. The ORAC level in 100 gram of blueberries is 4669 Mol Te. Our body need about 5000 Mol Te ORAC per day. A glass of fresh blueberries smoothie can provide you ORAC level that your body needs in a day. Besides, the protective antioxidants in blueberry do not change when we frozen the fruits. So we can use fresh or frozen blueberry to make smoothie in all year round. In this post I list my 3 simple and fast blueberry smoothy recipes. These recipes are easy to make and good to your health.

Blueberry and yogurt

Serves for 2

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberry (150 g)
  • 1 cup of vanilla or plain yogurt or 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • ½ cup of ice

How to do it?

Blend at high speed. Serve immediately with mint leaves. Yogurt contain high amount of calcium and live bacteria that are beneficial to the digestion. Live bacteria in yogurt can protect against harmful gut bacterial which cause food poisoning. 

Blueberry and Strawberry smoothie

Serves 1-2

  • 1 cup of blueberry fresh or frozen (150 gr)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries (75 g)
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ cup vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1 whole strawberry for decoration
  • Fresh mint leaves

How to do it

  • Place strawberry and milk in blender
  • Cover and process for 10-15 seconds
  • Add frozen yogurt and vanilla to blender process 10-15 seconds
  • Garnish with whole strawberry and mint leaves

Blueberry and raspberry crush


Blueberry and raspberry smoothie is tasty and can protect you from the ravages of free radicals.

Serves 1-2

  • 1 cup of blueberries (150 gr)
  • 1 cup of raspberries (120gr)
  • 1 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup of ice
  • 1 tsp. of honey

How to do it

  • Wash and hull the fruits
  • Put them both into a blender and blend until smooth.

As blueberry and raspberry contain lots small and hard seeds, the smoothie can be quite dry and hard. You can add or reduce amount of yogurt and honey as your taste too. Garnish with fresh raspberry and mint leaves.

Here are three simple and healthy blueberry smoothie recipes that you can make it everyday within 5 minutes. I hope you find something interesting in this post. And let me know what do you think about these simple recipes? What is your favorite blueberry smoothie recipes? I would love to know your favorite blueberry smoothie recipes too. 

Making fresh and dry Raspberry Leaf Tea at home

Raspberry leaf tea is very good herbal tea with a lot of vitamin C, E, A, B, and minerals such as Phosphorous, Potassium and tanning. This amazing herbal tea can enhance the immune system, tonic body, skin and reducing the cough when you got a sore throat. In Finland’s summer raspberries grow everywhere and it is very easy to collect the fresh raspberry leaf. That’s why I use fresh raspberry leaf tea in the summer time and dried some raspberry leaf tea for winter time.  

HARVEST FRESH RASPBERRY LEAVES

The best time to collect raspberry leaves is before blossom time. Always remember to harvest only the green and healthier looking leaves.
If you harvest red raspberry leave for only fresh tea, pick only the amount of leaves you will use last for 5 – 6 days.  Raspberry leaves will lose their precious quantities of nutrition after 5 or 6 days.

After picking the leaves don’t put it nylon, plastic bags or closed spaces like in the trunk of your vehicle. Keep the picked leaves in open space such as the basket.  

And don’t:

Don’t pick the leaves with obvious damage.
Don’t harvest the red raspberry leaves growing on roadside or curbs. These leaves are not suitable for consumption.
Don’t put the picked leaves under direct sunlight too.

CLEAN RASPBERRY LEAVES

You can clean raspberry leaves by rinsing the leaves under cool and running water. Do not soak the leaves in water, they will lose many of their much-desired substances (particularly sugars, vitamins, and minerals)

MAKING FRESH RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

Firstly, I will choose 3 fresh and healthy looking raspberry leaves to make tea. You can add more leaves or reduce the leaves depend on your taste. But with me, 3 red raspberry leaves are enough.
I used my favorite ceramic cup with lid and strainer to brew this herb tea.  As I mentioned before in the post of 5 main types of teapot, the ceramic is the best material for brewing herbal tea.

Then, I cut raspberry fresh leaves it into small pieces and put them into the strainer like this. If you do not cut it, the hot water cannot exploit all the benefits of raspberry leaves.
Boil water until fully boiling and pour the water into the cup. Put the lid on and wait for 8-10 minutes. 
The fresh raspberry leaf tea has a light sweet taste and the smell like raspberry. If you like sweet, you can put some sugar or honey as you like. I would prefer to drink this herb tea without sugar. If you need to enhance the berry smell, you can put some fresh raspberry in the tea.

DRY RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

After rinsing the raspberry leaves under running water you can leave them dry by their own. The best way to dry raspberry leaves or other herbs is to make little bunches and rig them upside down on a line in a cool, dry and drafty place. Bunches should be thin so that the circulating air can dry the herbs to the core. Avoid humid areas. Make sure the temperature is steady and the air is dry. The ideal temperature is 20 – 31oC. The faster the drying of herbs is the better. Do not dry raspberry leaves under direct sunlight, or they will wither.

After 4 days, my raspberry leaves were totally dry.


 I plucked raspberry leaves and placed them in airtight jar and stored away in cool and dry place.

Remember to use dried herbs six months later, but not later since they tend to loose their aroma.

You can use one teaspoon of dried raspberry leaf tea for one cup of tea. Put the leaf tea into a strainer and pouring boiling water into the cup. Wait for 10-15 minutes then enjoy the raspberry leaf tea. 

It is not so difficult to make fresh raspberry leaf tea and dry raspberry leaf tea at home. Why don’t you make your own raspberry leaf tea if you can find the suitable leaves? Only after 4 days, you can have a jar of dried raspberry leaf which you can use for 6 months.  I strongly recommend you read more about Raspberry leaf: Benefits and Cautions before using this healthy leaf tea for better results.

How to Make Low Sugar and No Pectin Raspberry Jam


Summer time is the great time to pick red raspberry in Finland. As I mentioned in the post ‘‘Healthbenefits and usages of Red Raspberry’’ I collected a lot red raspberry in summer time. For that reason, I had to think about how to use effectively my fresh red raspberry. Besides frozen red raspberries, making low sugar jam is another good ways to use a large amount of red raspberries. It’s quite funny to say that making jam has become my new hobby since I live in Finland. I love to make jam from all types of berry like red raspberry, strawberry and blue berry. It is very nice to have a breakfast with summer jam in a very cold and dark winter morning. Now, let start to do my favorite low sugar red raspberry jam. 

Ingredients:  

  •            300 gr of sugar
  •      700 gr of fresh or frozen unsweetened red raspber
  •       200ml of water
  •       3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
I don’t use the traditional recipe to make jam with 50 percent of sugar and 50 percent of fruits. Instead, I make low sugar jam with 30% of sugar and 70% of fruits like red raspberry, blue berry and strawberry. I try not to eat much sugar because it is not good to body and skin. I have tested so many times to make jam with lower sugar at different percentages but nothing is as good as 30:70 percentage. However, the lower percentage of sugar I put in the jam, the shorter time I can keep the jam in refrigerator. My jam’s refrigerated life is 4 or 5 months shorter than the jam made with traditional recipe. If you want to keep your jam longer, you can use the traditional recipe with 500 gr of sugar and 500 gr of red raspberries.
In my jam, I did not discard the raspberry seeds because according to the website Berry health red raspberry seeds are rich in Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acid and sun protection factor (SPF) of 24-50. But sometime it’s very uncomfortable when red raspberry seeds stuck in teeth. If you don’t like that, you can discard them while cooking jam by using strainer.
Step 1: Prepare the sterilized jars before you start to make a jam.

          Place clean jars into the pot and boil jars over high heat for 10 minutes. Make sure the water is covered all of the jars.
          Remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time by using jar lifters.
          Turned upside down jars to make sure they are completely drained.

          Do not boil the jar lids and lid rings because boiling the lid can cause problems in sealing jars. Just simmer the jar’s lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain lids and rings and keep them aside the jars.
          If you need to read more about sterilized jars you can see detailed information in the post’s references.
Step 2: Boil 200ml or a cup of water in the high heat until the water is boiling. Slowly add sugar and stir it until the sugar totally melted. After 5 minutes, the sugar is melted totally you can put lemon juice into the pot. The lemon juice will prevent the jam from mold and minimizes the loss of vitamin in red raspberries.

 Step 3: Put 700 gr of fresh or frozen raspberry into the boiling pot. Using wooden spoon, lightly crush raspberries in the pot. 

Place the pan or pot over high heat to boil the mixture and stir constantly. Skim foam from the pot’s surface. If you want to discard the red raspberry seeds, you can start to remove red raspberry seeds in this step.  
Testing and checking jam until it done.  If mixture gets dry and looks like a gel it is ready. If jam is too thin and spreads, return it to pot and continue boiling it. This is my product after one and half hours.

Step 4: Spoon your hot jam into hot sterilized jars and cover immediately with sterilized lids. Put lids and rings on jars and tighten; do not over-tighten. Once jars have cooled completely, test to make sure each jar is completely sealed. Press down on the middle of the lid with a finger. If lid springs up when finger is released, the jar is unsealed. When step 4 is finished, the red raspberry jam may be kept refrigerated, up to 1 month.
 Step 5: If you want to keep your low sugar red raspberry jam up for longer from 4 to 6 months or longer, you need to do some extra work with your filled jars.
          Boiling water in the pot or the caner which you used to sterilized the jars before.  When the water in the pot or caner be close to boiling or up to 180 degree, place filled jars into the pot. Keep the jars upright at all the times and water below the neck of the jar. Increase the heat until the water comes to full boil. Keep jars in the pot for 5 minutes.
                      After 5 minutes, turn off heat and wait 5 minutes before moving jars from caner to allow the boiling and jar content to settle.
          Remove jars from caner and carefully place them onto towel or cake cooling rack. Keep space between jars and avoid placing jars onto cold surface.
          Cool jars upright for 12 to 24 hours while vacuum seal is dawn and the jam is settle up. Do not push down on a center of the flat metal lid until the jar is completely cooled.
          If you make jam with traditional recipe with 50:50 percentage, you can keep the jam up to one year after finishing step 5.
Here are my finished low sugar red raspberry jam jars
Notes:
·        I put sugar less than the traditional method so the jam will not be kept as long as the traditional jam recipe. As my own experience, if I kept the jam in a suitable way, I can keep my jam in good conditions from 4 to 6 months.
·        Once you open the can, consume the jam during 3 or 4 weeks. Keep the jam in refrigerator.
·        Always remember to check all home-canned jam jars before opening and eating. If there is any mold or any sigh of spoilage, discard the entire content of the jar or container.
It’s a little strange to read post of making jam in a healthy drinks blog, but I do love jam. Making low sugar red raspberry jam is one part of my experience of using red raspberry in efficient and healthy way. With me, low sugar red raspberry jam is the best jam ever. If you like this post, try to make low sugar red raspberry jam with my recipe. You will see the difference between your homemade jam and the jam you bought in supermarket. Let me know your opinion about this red raspberry jam recipe. I am very happy to learn from you more about making jam.

References

Raspberry drink with Honey and Mint


         Today I will share with you my favorite healthy drink recipe made from with red raspberries, mint leaves and honey. This healthy drink is easy to prepare and very good to your body. Your body can absorb many antioxidant, mineral and vitamin C from red raspberries and honey in this healthy drink. As I mentioned in the post ‘‘Health benefits and usages of red raspberry’’, the red raspberry contains high amount of antioxidant that fight against cancer, heart circulatory disease and age-related decline. To make this drink you can use both fresh and frozen red raspberries to make it. 
       
       The mint leaves in the drink can eliminate toxins from your body, cleanses the stomach and clear up skin disorders. I don’t know about you but with me I always prefer the honey to the sugar. Besides the excellence health benefit, the honey has a very relaxing smell. When you combine red raspberries, mint leaves and honey you will have a very tasty healthy drink. Now let start to do this easy and healthy red raspberry drink: 

                                Ingredients:

      1 dl of fresh red raspberries or frozen un-sweetened
      2 tsp. of honey
      4 or 5 mint leaves

A cup of ice


Step 1: Mix 2 tsp. honey with water. You should put a little hot water into cup because it is very hard for honey mixed with cold water. When honey totally melted, you can put more cold water up to 150 ml or a half of cup like this. 



Step 2: Put red raspberries into a cup of honey water. Squeeze the red raspberries and then discard the red raspberry seeds.


Step 3: Cut 5 mint leaves and then put them into the cup with red raspberry. If you want more mint flavor in your drink, you can squeeze cut mint leaves but it might bring a little bitter feeling from squeezed mint leaves to the raspberry drink.

Step 4: Put some ice and enjoy the red raspberry healthy drink. It only takes you about 10 minute or less to prepare this healthy and tasty red raspberry drink. 


This healthy drink got a light sweet taste but not too sweet.  You can enjoy a relaxing flavor which is combined by honey, fresh mint leaves and red raspberry. If you are looking for easy and healthy drink recipe, this healthy drink recipe is a good choice. Try to make it if you like red raspberry, honey and mint leave. Let me know what you think about this easy healthy drink recipe or what your experience when you make it.