Bilberry is a unique berry that is one of the main treasures of Russian forests, along with other edible plants and mushrooms. It possesses valuable nutritional properties, its role in human health improvement is no less significant. The health benefits and harms of blueberries will be covered in detail in this article. It is not for nothing that this plant was included in the list of medicines in many countries of the world. In addition to its widely advertised properties of beneficially influencing the organs of vision, many other healing properties can be found in this plant.
The chemical composition of blueberries
Blueberry is a small shrub with dark purple berries covered with a pronounced waxy bloom. The content of a large amount of essential oils gives such an attractive appearance to the berries. The shrub is found both in swamps and in forests, mainly in the northern regions of Russia, but there is also its southern variety, which is widespread in the Caucasus mountains.
Breeders have bred and successfully cultivated garden forms of common blueberries. But if their taste is in no way inferior to their wild relative, then in their health-promoting properties, forest blueberries are much superior to their garden counterparts.
Of course, its vitamin composition is rich and varied:
- beta carotene or vitamin A;
- ascorbic acid or vitamin C;
- almost a complete set of B vitamins;
- nicotinic acid or vitamin PP;
- tocopherol or vitamin E;
- phylloquinone or vitamin K.
There are many in berries and various micro- and macroelements:
But most of the unique health benefits of blueberries come from the variety of organic acids that make up about 7% dry matter:
After all, organic acids have not only antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but are also able to slow down the processes of cellular aging, prevent the formation of free radicals and normalize all types of metabolism.
Both berries and blueberry leaves contain a significant amount of pectins and tannins (more than 12%), which accelerate the regeneration of cells and tissues and have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
And the essential oils, which have already been mentioned, are capable of destroying pathogenic bacteria, as well as having a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect.
In addition, flavonoids, myrtillin and neomyrtillin, are found in its leaves and fruits - organic compounds that have an antioxidant effect and can lower blood sugar levels.
At the same time, the glycemic index of blueberries is quite low. It is 43 units.
Attention! The glycemic index measures the rate at which blood glucose levels rise when certain foods are consumed.
Calorie content of blueberries per 100 grams
Regardless of the rich composition, the calorie content of blueberries cannot be called very high. According to various sources, it ranges from 40 to 55 kcal. That, in turn, is only 2.5% of the average daily value.
Why blueberries are useful for the human body
Having considered in detail the richest composition of the plant called blueberry, it becomes clear that its beneficial effect on the health of the human body is unusually wide.
- Berries are an excellent natural antibiotic and antiseptic. Therefore, many colds are effectively treated, including sore throat, cough and sore throat.
- They are no less useful for curing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The substances in the berries have a disinfecting effect on the internal organs. As a result, the microflora in the intestine is significantly improved, and putrefactive processes are prevented.
- The anti-inflammatory effect of the berries is beneficial for the treatment of all types of rheumatism, as well as kidney and bladder diseases.
- Blueberries help to remove toxins from the body, which in general slows down the aging and decay processes.
- Their use can have a beneficial effect on the pancreas, the normal functioning of which prevents the development of diabetes mellitus. And other unique substances contained in berries can have a positive effect on the treatment of this disease.
- One of the most unique beneficial properties inherent in blueberries is its beneficial effect in the course of eye diseases.
- In addition, infusions of berries and leaves actively fight radioactive compounds and are even able to remove them from the body.
- The astringent and disinfecting properties of berries and leaves help in the treatment of hemorrhoids, as well as for the healing of injuries in a variety of skin diseases: eczema, abscesses, burns.
- Blueberries and preparations made from them are equally good for the human body as a preventive measure. They increase immunity, strengthen blood vessels, prevent the development of diseases of the cardiovascular system.
The honey obtained by bees during the flowering of blueberry bushes is distinguished by a translucent color with a reddish-raspberry hue, a pronounced blueberry flavor and berry aroma. The beneficial properties of blueberry honey and contraindications to its use are not fundamentally different from the berry itself.
Important! All health benefits are only enhanced by the beneficial effects of honey, and an allergy to bee products can be added to the contraindications.
Why blueberries are useful for women
For women, the berries themselves and decoctions from blueberry leaves can be beneficial, primarily for cosmetic purposes, and when used for the health of the female body, one should take into account the possible harm they can cause.
- Berries have long been widely used for skin rejuvenation. Anti-inflammatory and moisturizing masks and creams are made from them.
- Antioxidants in fruits accelerate blood circulation, have a beneficial effect on cell regeneration, and prevent tissues from aging prematurely.
- Both in folk and in official medicine, they advise the use of blueberries on critical women's days. She will be able to remove unpleasant and painful syndromes, relieve muscle spasms, and help regulate the menstrual cycle.
- The usefulness of blueberries is also manifested in the treatment of diseases of the kidneys, genitourinary tract and gynecological problems.
- The rich composition of berries has a beneficial effect on the condition of the hair. After a month of regular use, both internally and externally, dandruff will disappear, and the hair will acquire density and shine.
- Relevant for women and help in the treatment of varicose veins. By normalizing blood flow and improving circulation in the blood channels, the use of blueberries can alleviate the course of this disease.
The benefits of blueberries for men
Blueberries can also be beneficial for men's health. As a result of many years of research, the presence of flavonoids in berries has been proven - special substances that provide many functions of the body, including sexual health. Reproductive function is improved by improving testicular function and improving sperm quality.
The healthy properties of berries also help in curing inflammation of the prostate gland and solve problems with the work of the heart, which is increasingly becoming relevant for middle-aged men.
Benefits of blueberries for pregnant women
Blueberries can be a real lifesaver for many women during pregnancy. Indeed, during this period, treatment with antibiotics and other strong drugs is contraindicated. But, due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, the berry will help to cope with most colds and infectious diseases.
So, with sore throat, the following recipe will be very effective: dilute 2 tablespoons of blueberry juice in a glass of warm water and rinse your throat regularly with the resulting composition.
During pregnancy, any female body works for two, so it just needs a double dose of minerals and vitamins. Lack of calcium, iron, potassium, low hemoglobin levels can lead not only to deterioration of the condition of teeth and hair, but also to more serious health problems. All this can be provided by blueberries, if consumed in small quantities, but regularly. In addition, they can serve as an excellent prevention of exacerbation of chronic diseases.
The fruits will also help with any digestive problems. You just have to remember about the main contraindications in the use of this berry and eat it in small quantities, preferably after a meal.
And, of course, any pregnant woman wants to remain beautiful in spite of everything. And in this she will also be effectively helped by blueberries. By including it in your daily diet and complementing the action by using masks from time to time with its presence, you can ensure the beauty of the skin, hair and nails. Moreover, both before and after the birth of the child, when there will no longer be too much time to take care of oneself.
Can blueberries be breastfed?
Even during the period of bearing a child, the substances present in blueberries contribute to the formation of his central nervous system and skeleton. Therefore, even later, after birth, the use of blueberries by a nursing mother can hardly be called harmful. Of course, in the absence of general contraindications to eating this berry, universal for everyone.
After all, it is blueberries with hepatitis B that will help the mother's body to recover faster after gestation and childbirth, and the child to receive in their natural form all possible substances useful for life.
Attention! Although blueberries are not considered a hypoallergenic berry, moderation should be observed the first time they are eaten.
It is better to start with literally a few berries and carefully monitor the baby's reactions in order to identify cases of individual intolerance in a timely manner.
Useful properties of blueberries for children
If the baby has already become acquainted with blueberries during breastfeeding, then at an older age this berry will be able to bring him a lot of health benefits.
It contains a lot of calcium, so the formation of the bone and muscle apparatus in a child will be faster and more complete. Children are especially eager to drink milk with blueberries, and this drink is not able to bring anything but benefits for an actively growing child's body.
During periods of the spread of colds, regular eating of fresh grated berries with sugar can have a serious preventive effect. After all, blueberries strengthen the immune system well.
It can also be of considerable importance for giving additional strength during active physical and mental stress.
For both small and large children, it will be the best assistant in normalizing digestion. Indeed, for any disorders, especially of a non-infectious nature, berries normalize digestion, and in the necessary direction. You should not just abuse the fruits for chronic constipation - it is better to find a more suitable medicinal product.
At what age can you give blueberries to a child
Blueberries are more of a sweet berry and should be enjoyed by any toddler. Unlike many other useful berries, pediatricians recommend giving blueberries to try at the most tender age, even before a year, from seven months. Of course, the berries must be crushed and introduced into the child's diet in the form of puree. Possibly mixed with other hypoallergenic berries and fruits such as apples.
Important! Already from one and a half years, the child's body is ready to digest whole berries and fresh. And he can be given up to 50 g of healthy berries daily.
From the age of three, children can eat blueberries in large quantities - up to 1-2 glasses a day.
It is hard to imagine that a healthy berry like blueberry can have any harmful effect on the health of the body. Nevertheless, this is quite likely if it was collected in areas that are unfavorable for environmental factors. After all, blueberries have the ability to accumulate various toxins and radioactive substances in their fruits. Therefore, one should beware of eating berries brought from Belarus, Ryazan and Bryansk regions.
Blueberries strengthen or weaken stools
There are many discrepancies in connection with the ability of blueberries, one way or another, to affect the body during intestinal disorders. Many sources claim its ability to loosen stools. On the other hand, there is also a lot of information about its fixing properties.
It turns out that the matter is quite simple. Dried berries are an excellent remedy for loose stools, and for these purposes they can also be used in the form of decoctions and compotes. But to cope with constipation (but not of a chronic nature), fresh blueberries or squeezed juice from them in a raw form are quite suitable.
Blueberries for diarrhea
As mentioned, dried blueberries are best used to treat diarrhea or loose stools. It is enough to eat about 5-6 berries, so that in a few hours the bloating stops, the diarrhea goes away, and the strength begins to recover.
A similar effect of blueberries with diarrhea is explained by the presence of a large amount of tannins, the concentration of which only increases with drying. By the way, a decoction of blueberry leaves has a similar effect. It contains many tannins, which have a beneficial effect on the intestinal mucosa and remove harmful compounds from it.
For treatment, you can use the following recipe:
- 1 tbsp. l. dry berries or dried blueberry leaves;
- 2 cups boiling water.
- Mix the required ingredients and evaporate the liquid on steam until its volume is halved.
- Strain and let cool.
- Take ¼ glass of broth before meals several times a day.
The remedy will help reduce acidity, eliminate heartburn and relieve inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines.
There is also a recipe for alcohol tincture, which, unlike a decoction, can be stored for a long time. 100 g of dry berries are poured into 1 liter of 70% alcohol and insisted in a dark place for 21 days. It is taken, diluted with water (1 tbsp. Per 100 ml of liquid), several times with an interval between doses of about 6 hours. Tincture can significantly alleviate the condition and with gastrointestinal infections, and food poisoning.
Blueberries for constipation
But fresh blueberries or juice from them can have a completely opposite effect. The fact is that fresh berries contain a large amount of fiber. And it contributes to the rapid cleansing of the intestinal tract from stagnant food. In addition, blueberries contain substances that are very beneficial for the intestinal microflora.
Attention! In order to get the visible effect of loosening the stool, you need to eat a sufficient amount of fresh fruits. You may not get a cleansing effect from a few berries.
It should be remembered that an absolutely harmless daily dose when eating fresh blueberries is about 100 g.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
A lot has already been said about the beneficial effects of the properties of blueberries on the body.This chapter lists specific recipes that use blueberry berries or leaves.
Blueberries for sight
Not so long ago it was believed that the unique composition of substances contained in blueberries can serve as a panacea for almost all eye diseases. But scientists could neither completely refute nor prove this fact. In the composition of the berries, only glucoside was found, which can resist the formation of glaucoma and cataracts. However, in practice, there have been confirmed cases of improvement in night vision as a result of regular consumption of blueberries.
Therefore, there are specific recipes for using blueberries to prevent and help with the following eye problems.
- To restore and improve visual acuity 1-2 tbsp. dry berries are poured with cold water so that they are completely hidden under water. Soak for 10-12 hours. Berries are eaten half an hour before meals.
- The so-called "raw" jam has the same effect, that is, berries, ground with sugar in a 1: 1 ratio.
- To help with conjunctivitis, just eat 1 tbsp. dry blueberries a day.
- To treat myopia, juice is squeezed out of fresh berries, diluted with boiled water in a ratio of 1: 2, and 5 drops are instilled into each eye once a day in the morning.
Both berries and blueberry leaves are actively used in a variety of diets due to their rich composition and at the same time low calorie content.
For example, you can arrange fasting days on which to eat exclusively blueberry products. You can alternate fresh berries with fermented milk products. (Blueberry puree is mixed with kefir in a ratio of 1: 2 and 1 teaspoon of honey is added.) However, you should not extend this unloading period for more than 3 days without first consulting a specialist.
Also, blueberry leaves will have a beneficial role in reducing appetite if mixed in equal proportion with green tea leaves and brewed in the form of tea.
You can also take a special powder made from natural herbs to reduce appetite. It is composed in equal proportions:
- blueberry leaves,
- horsetail herb;
- valerian root;
- bean flaps.
All herbs in dry form are crushed, mixed and taken for ½ hour a quarter of an hour after meals, 2 times a day.
Blueberries for type 2 diabetes
Since organic compounds similar in structure to insulin were found in the composition of blueberries, the berries are quite capable of benefiting and playing the role of a real remedy, especially in type 2 diabetes.
In this case, herbal preparations prepared according to the following recipes can help:
- Pour 250 ml of boiling water over 35 g of blueberry leaves, nettle and dandelion roots. Heat in a water bath for about 40 minutes and, dividing into 3 parts, drink during the day.
- Blueberry leaves and burdock roots are mixed in equal parts. 1 hour mixture is poured with 250 ml of boiling water, insisted for 1 hour. Take 2 tbsp. 3-4 times a day.
Blueberries for gout
With gout, blueberries, like some other berries, play the role of a diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent.
The following recipes are used:
- 4 tbsp. blueberries are poured with a liter of water, heated for an hour in a water bath, the same amount is insisted and filtered. Take 4-5 times a day, 1 tablespoon.
- 1 tbsp. blueberry leaves are poured with 500 ml of boiling water, insisted for half an hour and taken during the day.
For the cardiovascular system
The unique composition of blueberries allows:
- Reduce blood pressure with prolonged use.
- It has a beneficial effect on the walls of blood vessels and reduces capillary fragility and permeability.
To lower high blood pressure, 5 hours of dried berries are poured with a glass of boiling water and insisted for 8 hours. After straining, evenly distribute the infusion to be consumed throughout the day.
In terms of its effect on the immune system, no other berry can compare with blueberries. Indeed, in addition to a rich set of vitamins and minerals, it contains anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants), and even in the highest possible concentration.
It is best to brew 1 teaspoon of blueberry berries and leaves in a glass of boiling water, insist and regularly take 3 tbsp. infusion about 4 times a day.
In what form is it better to use the berry
For treatment and prevention, it is best to use fresh berries or juice squeezed out of them.
Of course, for the berries for the winter, you can prepare a lot of delicious things from them. But most of the beneficial health properties of the berry are lost during heat treatment, especially long-term.
The beneficial properties are best preserved in dried berries. Blueberries are dried in two stages: first, at a temperature of + 35-40 ° C, they slightly wither for about 2 hours, and then finally let them dry at a temperature of + 55-60 ° in an oven or electric dryer.
To a greater extent, the beneficial properties are preserved in frozen berries, especially since this method of conservation is one of the simplest.
One of the most popular ways to prepare berries for the winter is to grind them with sugar using a 1: 1 ratio. Store such a natural medicine in the refrigerator.
Why blueberries are bitter
Fresh blueberries are unlikely to be bitter, but after 3-4 days of storage, a slight bitterness may appear in them. Usually this means that the fruits are spoiled and for food, and even more so for treatment, they are unsuitable.
Another common reason that the berries are supposedly bitter is simple deception. If you look closely, you can see that some berries differ in shape and, possibly, in size from others. Simply, when selling blueberries, an unscrupulous seller replaced some of the berries with cheaper and sometimes bitter fruits of edible honeysuckle. These berries are similar in color, but differ in shape.
In this case, blueberries (along with honeysuckle) can be eaten, although the therapeutic effect may be reduced.
In addition to a large number of useful properties, blueberries also have some contraindications for use.
- First of all, like all edible products, blueberries can cause an individual intolerance with a concomitant allergic reaction.
- Berries are not recommended for use with the oxalate form of urolithiasis.
- Care should be taken when eating berries in acute forms of diseases of the duodenum and pancreas.
- You do not need to eat dried berries for constipation.
- There are also contraindications to its use with reduced blood clotting.
Both the health benefits and harms of blueberries are pretty obvious. Useful recommendations and recipes outlined in the article can help many people become healthier with the help of a truly Russian and seemingly very unassuming, but surprisingly healing berry - blueberry.