We love blueberries. Actually, we love all berries, whether blue, black, red, or any color in between. Ounce for ounce, blueberries pack a bigger antioxidant punch than almost any other fruit or vegetable. Just 3.5 ounces of blueberries has 2,400 oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) units. That’s about twice as many as spinach or broccoli.
One big helping of blueberries has the same antioxidant power as nearly five servings of certain other fruits and vegetables. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on fresh blueberries out of season: Frozen berries work just as well and they are a tasty and economical alternative. Plus, it may be a lot easier to get your kids to eat their blueberries than to convince them to swallow another mouthful of cooked spinach.
Studies indicate that blueberries help brain cells withstand stress.1 Studies on rats show great results, but even studies on human beings with mild, aging-related cognitive impairment show that people given blueberries or Concord grape juice perform better on tests of verbal memory than people who are given placebos.2
Strawberries and walnuts offer some of the same benefits. Other studies have found that the antioxidant compounds in blueberries provide still more benefits. They also can help lower blood pressure3 and protect against stroke4 in rats.
Promising work at Ohio State University suggests that blueberry extract can block the development of blood vessels that feed tumors and can inhibit inflammation that encourages their growth.5 More recently, a small study on mice pointed to a possible protective effect against breast cancer.6 Researchers gave mice blueberry extract or a placebo every day for a week before injecting the mice with hard-to-treat breast cancer cells. The dose of the extract would be comparable to eating five ounces of blueberries a day. After six weeks, the mice getting the blueberry extract had tumors that were 70 percent smaller and less likely to migrate than the mice getting the placebo.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic