For National Blueberry Month, we couldn’t help but share with you all the incredible benefits of blueberries for brain, gut, and heart health. While you might know a few of these, there is new research coming out regularly that shows blueberries are one of the fruits that consistently prove to be more beneficial than previously thought. Research has shown for years that blueberries are good for our hearts and brains, but there is more to it than that. There is also new data that shows these lovely, blue-hued berries are good for gut health in more ways than just containing fiber, a natural source of prebiotics.
Here, we dig into our favorite ways to use blueberries with some benefits you might not know. Either way, we hope you give these recipes a try! All of our recipes below are ones we created with our family of probiotic products, made with Lifeway Kefir cultured milk, Lifeway Oat cultured oat milk, and Lifeway Farmer Cheese, a protein-rich cheese that contains live and active cultures. No matter which of our products you try, these tempting recipes are healthy options to support your health!
Our 3 Favorite Healthy Benefits of Blueberries
1. Heart Health
Blueberries are good for our hearts in many ways. First, they’re a natural source of plant compounds known as polyphenols, which support healthy blood flow and optimal artery function. This is critical for our health because we need healthy blood flow for our heart health along with our brain health. Blueberries are anti-inflammatory as a result of these powerful compounds as well. Inflammation can cause everything from plaque in the arteries to joint health, bad gut health, and more. Blueberries’ powerful force is due to their natural sources of phytonutrients called polyphenols. Polyphenols act as both anti-inflammatory agents that clear plaque from our arteries, enhance blood flow to the brain, and even contribute to good gut health (learn more about that below!).
Furthermore, blueberries are a natural source of fiber since they’re a whole fruit, not a fruit juice, which has had the fiber removed. Fiber contributes to healthy blood flow to our hearts and brain by soaking up bad cholesterol from our blood and helping excrete it naturally. Blueberries are even a source of vitamin C, which acts as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant in the body as well. Vitamin C increases the uptake of iron, which is critical to overall health.
Get these benefits and more with some of our favorite blueberry recipes, such as this Blueberry Greens Smoothie recipe (pictured above), which is made with our incredible Organic Lifeway Low-Fat Blueberry Kefir, a wealth of probiotics and protein, not to mention Vitamin D, calcium, and potassium to support your overall health. Did we mention Lifeway Kefir contains 25-30 billion C.F.U.s per serving? C.F.U. stands for colony-forming units, and is how probiotics are measured in terms of billions on a label. We use a natural culturing source, not synthetic ingredients, and we use high-quality milk to make our kefir because we know your health matters.
2. Gut Health and a Healthy Microbiome
As mentioned above, blueberries are a great source of polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are antioxidants in the body. Polyphenols are found in dark, blue-purple-hued fruits and vegetables, and it’s what gives them their natural blue hue. You may have heard of these polyphenols referred to as anthocyanins, found in acai fruit, strawberries, and blackberries. Certain antioxidants contain different colors, so when you see a blue, purple, or even reddish fruit or vegetable, chances are it’s a good source of these plant compounds. How are polyphenols good for gut health? First and foremost, they’re anti-inflammatory, and inflammation has been long-known as a contributor to gut issues of many kinds. They also help remove plaque from the arteries of blood cell walls which helps blood flow to the brain from the gut-brain axis, which is critical for optimal digestion; they even contribute to healthy blood sugar levels because of this. Blueberries’ polyphenols have antioxidant properties but they also have been found to increase the diversity of certain strains in the microbiome.
Blueberries’ natural fiber content even creates a prebiotic fiber source for probiotics to “eat” and thrive on in order to grow and support our gut, immune, and brain health. All in all, these blue-hued gems are a no-brainer (pun intended!) to add to your daily meals and snacks.
Try one of our favorite breakfast recipes made with blueberries to start your day off right, this Acai Bowl which we made with our delicious kefir or you can use Lifeway Oat, our vegan cultured oat milk for all our dairy-free friends out there. We used real blueberries (one full cup!), so you get the benefits of probiotics and blueberries all in one recipe.
3. Healthy Aging
Blueberries’ polyphenols even support healthier aging and consistent research shows they may even contribute to increasing our lifespan because they are such a powerful source of polyphenols. Polyphenols act as anti-aging compounds for our skin. Their vitamin C content acts as a natural anti-aging compound and can help prevent wrinkles and aging skin because vitamin C is what contributes to healthy collagen formation naturally in our bodies, without the need of ingesting external collagen powders.
Eat a cup of blueberries per day to get these benefits and more! Here’s a great recipe we love that can help you do just that: High-Protein Blueberry Coconut Smoothie, which is made with Lifeway Kefir, a natural source of protein, probiotics, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and B vitamins to support your brain, gut, heart, skin, and immune system health. You might like this Blueberry Kefir Lemon Collagen Smoothie enhanced with even more skin benefits!
See more of our favorite blueberry recipes we love here, and be sure to get your hands on some of the brightest, most brilliant berries we have available to us year-round. What a beautiful thing these little blues are! You can learn more about the research and benefits of blueberries at the National Blueberry Council’s website for more.