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Blueberries May Help Prevent Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease

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Updated February 04, 2014

blueberries

Blueberries may protect your heart and prevent cancer.

Alexandra Grablewsk/Getty Images

Blueberries seem to make it to the top of almost every superfood list - and for good reason. They contain large amounts of phytochemicals such as polyphenols that trigger antioxidant activity that may help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

They're also low in calories and add vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber to your daily diet.

The phytochemicals found in blueberries (flavonoids, anthocyanidins, phenolic acids, and tannins) prevent and repair cellular damage done by free radicals. Laboratory studies show the chemicals in blueberries may also prevent cancer by slowing down the growth of cells, and reducing inflammation.

The phytochemicals may also be able to improve some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Laboratory research with rats suggests blueberries may specifically help to decrease abdominal fat, triglycerides and cholesterol -- but more research is needed in humans.

You'll find blueberries in the produce section of your local grocery store and in the freezer section. You can add blueberries to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt. You can use blueberries as an ingredient in breakfast muffins, or just enjoy fresh blueberries as a snack.

If you're going to use blueberries in recipes, be sure to look for healthy recipes that also include whole grains, other fruits and healthy oils such as canola oil. Watch out for excessive amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats.

Here are some healthy recipes that feature blueberries:

Sources

Seeram NP. "Berry fruits for cancer prevention: current status and future prospects." J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):630-5.

McAnulty SR, McAnulty LS, Morrow JD, Khardouni D, Shooter L, Monk J, Gross S, Brown V. "Effect of daily fruit ingestion on angiotensin converting enzyme activity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress in chronic smokers."Free Radic Res. 2005 Nov;39(11):1241-8.

University of Michigan Health System. "Blueberries make their mark on cardiovascular and diabetes risks, U-M animal study finds." Published April 19, 2009.

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