If you woke up every day and ate exactly what you should be eating to be the healthiest, lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and keep your blood sugar low, you might be guessing this would be a boring diet of oatmeal and kale . But what if we told you the number one that pops like candy mornings like noon and evenings like candy … are blueberries?
The latest research into the nutritional benefits of blueberries confirms the fact that these little pebble-sized fruits contain a large amount of antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals that will help improve your circulation, boost your immunity, and keep you feeling full while you’re sending your fill keep your blood sugar in a healthy state and cause your body to break down fat? Because this little berry is so high in fiber (at almost 4 grams per cup), you won’t feel hunger pangs shortly after consuming it (unlike sugary treats). This is one reason why eating blueberries regularly has been linked to helping you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
One study found that laboratory rats that were restocked for 90 days and then consumed blueberries lost more belly fat than the same rats that did not eat blueberries, and scientists believe this was related to the way the antioxidants in blueberries were impacting be metabolized by influencing fat and glucose. Even if you don’t have a perfect diet, adding blueberries seems to aid in burning belly fat by reducing insulin sensitivity. Another later study found similar results.
Blueberries are also known to help athletes recover faster when eaten before a hard workout as they help fight inflammation. Endurance athletes who consume blueberries before a big race or long training session have experienced less oxidative stress, which means they experience less pain and walk faster and further on this natural fuel. (Perhaps this is why most exercise smoothies start with blueberries and some type of protein powder.)
The phytochemicals in blueberries are powerful health promoters
According to a recent study, “Blueberries contain a large number of phytochemicals”, anthocyanin pigments are most notable, a powerful flavonoid that gives the berry its sapphire blue color. Of their various phytochemicals, anthocyanins are likely to have the greatest impact on blueberries’ health functions and how they do their wonders in your body.
“Epidemiological studies link the regular, moderate intake of blueberries and / or anthocyanins with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, death and type 2 diabetes as well as improved weight maintenance and neuroprotection.”
In addition to helping improve weight loss and brain function, blueberries are also powerhouses when it comes to fighting the effects of heart disease, especially the circulatory system.
“Blueberry anthocyanins protect against cardiovascular complications by acting on multiple targets in the vascular system,” according to another study. “This includes activating endothelial nitric oxide … reducing oxidative stress, improving inflammatory pathways,” as well as reducing the amount of fat or lipids in the blood that lead to high cholesterol.
To learn more about the mighty blueberry and learn about the best foods to fight off infection, keep blood pressure low, and keep your heart healthy for years to come, we caught up with Maya Feller, RD, and the founder of Maya Hit Feller Nutrition. A private nutrition practice specializing in nutrition for the prevention of chronic diseases.
The beet: It’s February, heart health month! What should we eat for a heart healthy diet?
Maya Feller: Find the healthy habits that are sustainable for you. The answer is different for everyone, but the best way to be healthy is to find simple, sustainable habits that are heart-healthy. When I work with patients, the first thing I usually say is: let’s reshape the conversation and think about the modifications and changes you can make that will be sustainable over time.
So instead of thinking that you will be able to do this major overhaul Regarding your eating habits and physical activity, we ask: What are the small steps you can take? What can you add daily?
The turnip: that’s why you have so many blueberries. Anyone can eat them every day
Maya Feller: Of course we always look for food in its entirety and minimally processed form with limited additions of sugars, salts, and fats.
When I work with my patients, I say: how does it look for you? Because it will look different for everyone. For me it was a small bowl of blueberries this morning. It’s really, really easy. I always have blueberries in my house, fresh or frozen.
The beet: It makes it that easy when you include frozen blueberries. Are they that good?
Maya Feller: Yes. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins C, K, manganeseThey’re also high in fiber. And we love all of those vitamins, minerals, and nutrients because there is so much good research out there that protects our cardiovascular health.
The Beet: Would you say a plant-based diet is good for heart health?
What should people think of besides staying away from processed foods?
Maya Feller: The main features are: Eat food in its whole and minimally processed form. That said, if you eat animal protein and chicken, look for a piece of chicken that has been minimally processed. The moment it goes through a factory, that’s your processing.
Sugar beet: We help people to eat as plant-based as possible. But that still includes chips!
The Beet is about helping people be as plant-based as possible. My problem with this is that I can be plant-based and still love potato chips. Potato chips are processed, but technically they are vegetable. One of the things that I think is important in order to convince myself and others is that from a health perspective, having it out of a pocket may not be a good idea. What do you think of potato chips?
Maya Feller: I realize that there really is no one size fits all diet. There are foods, yes, that we know if you eat them regularly and consistently – things that have lots of additives – sugars, salts, and fats added – packaged foods that are ultra-processed. These are usually the ones that are linked with poor health outcomes. We know this is true, don’t we?
Diet is a matter of what you do most of the time, not the moment in its own right. If you have a potato chip from time to time, okay. My question is always how do you eat it? Do you have fun? Is it causing you a lot of stress? Hopefully not. How is your health? How is your current health? If you have a non-communicable disease that you want to deal with, you need to think about food through a prescription lens … because that’s kind of the reality of what you are dealing with.
So I think if I interviewed my patients They would probably say, “You know, Maya is working with me to find the eating pattern that I can endure over time that will help me get the best result.”
The Beet: So a little chips won’t kill me?
Maya Feller: Exactly.
The beet: As long as I consistently choose healthy food. That’s the key, right?
Back to the idea of the blueberries that I love. I rarely don’t have them in the house and then that’s a reason for me to go to the store. One of the things I would always say to people – because I was the editor of SELF for a long time and people were asking me: Is this way and that healthy? And I would say “compared to what?” Is Popcorn Healthy? Safe compared to greasy corn chips. Is Yogurt Healthy? Compared to ice. But nothing is as healthy as a whole piece of fruit. Or a handful of blueberries.
M: Exactly! I agree! When you want something to eat and you want a candy, a blueberry is like the perfect snack.
The turnip: I love to say that blueberries are nature’s candy. I love it.
But if you’re having a dark chocolate moment and really can’t live without it, fine, but I always say, “Try to eat the healthiest you can at a given time.” And what that means in general, if you’re in an airport food court, maybe it’s a salad. If you’re at home, you might keep almonds and blueberries close by and that’s your snack.
Basically, try to eat the healthiest that you can at any given time. This will push you away from wrong and towards right. So if people can keep things around that are healthy, then that is their option. That said, if you are trying to eat the healthiest at any given time, if you have blueberries in your house, that’s the healthiest thing you can eat most of the day.
Maya Feller: Right. I like to put the restriction especially given that we are in this moment that neither of us has ever lived through. The availability of fresh fruit and vegetables varies. So when we talk about health we need to think about access as well, and it’s not just financial access, it’s what you can achieve during the pandemic.
You have to buy the healthy things that you can do overtime and that you can replicate. When it comes to getting fresh or frozen blueberries this is fantastic. Then you can replicate this behavior and be consistent. So if you are healthy over time, you need to build this framework that will support what you want. If you have to keep a bag of frozen berries, peas, or mixed vegetables in the freezer, you can stand it.
The turnip: That’s a great point. To be consistent, remember to maintain healthy habits.
Thank you Maya. I want you back to The Beet. They are an amazing and helpful guide to what is healthy and how we can all remember to be healthier today and for years to come.