I Know Blueberries are Good For Me, But Why? : An Exlusive Renegade Health Article by Dr. J.E. Williams

Wednesday Jul 27 | BY |
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Studies show that the phenolic compounds in blueberries can lower the risk for cancer, exert liver protective effects, reduce inflammation, protect the central nervous system, and promote longevity.

Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM


Goose berries, blackberries, cranberries, and goji berries all have potent antioxidant benefits. However, blueberries are the leader of the berry pack, as they are the most widely available, the most studied, and they have significantly higher concentrations of total antioxidants than any of their berry counterparts.

Blueberry bushes are found in the temperate climate zone around the world, with species in North America, Europe and Asia. Some cultivars can be grown in gardens as far south as Florida. Blueberries are also now grown in the temperate climates in the Southern Hemisphere, including Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

No matter where they are from, blueberries have an extraordinary way of concentrating unique polyphenols (powerful plant antioxidants). However, simple antioxidant protection is not enough to explain the remarkable effects blueberry phenolics have on cells and body function.

Several scientific studies are what confirm the folk wisdom of consuming blueberries, which show that blueberry anthocyanins (the phenolic compounds that are thought to have healthy effects) lower the risk for cancer, exert liver protective effects, reduce inflammation, protect the central nervous system, and promote longevity. Moreover, a new study from Chile points out that blueberry polyphenol extract protects neural tissue and safeguards mitochondrial function (mitochondria are the energy powerhouse of the cell). Other studies show that blueberry anthocyanins are readily absorbed after consumption, even with a fatty meal, and are found in serum from a blood test.

The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in foods, and at 9,019, the ORAC value of raw Blueberries is higher than other fruits. However, don’t expect lightening results; it takes about four months of regular consumption of blueberries to show an advantage in your health. The daily recommended consumption is ½ to 1 cup of wild or organic berries. Each cup contains 3.6 grams of fiber.

Blueberry extract supplements and wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) capsules are available in 500 mg capsules with a recommended dosage of one capsule daily with food. While these are indeed useful, do not use them as a substitute for whole organic or wild berries.


  • You can freeze blueberries without doing damage to their delicate anthocyanin antioxidants.
  • Berries have a low glycemic index, falling somewhere in the range of 40-53; so, eating them won’t raise blood sugar levels. In fact, they can improve glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels.
  • If you can’t get wild ones, raise your own, or go organic! Organically grown blueberries have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants and total anthocyanin than conventionally grown blueberries.
  • They reduce insulin resistance and in some people can eliminate “belly fat.”
  • Their high fiber content helps reduce constipation and promote colon health.
  • Blueberries have unique antimicrobial action, and like cranberries, help promote urinary tract health.


  • Anthocyanins
  • Malvidins
  • Delphinidins
  • Pelargonidins
  • Cyanidins
  • Peonidins
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids
  • Caffeic acids
  • Ferulic acids
  • Coumaric acids
  • Hydroxybenzoic acids
  • Gallic acids
  • Procatchuic acids
  • Flavonols
  • Kaempferol
  • Quercetin
  • Myricetin
  • Other phenol-related phytonutrients
  • Pterostilbene
  • Resveratrol

Yi W, Fischer J, Krewer G, Akoh CC. Phenolic compounds from blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 2005 Sep 7;53(18):7320-9.

Wang YP, Cheng ML, Zhang BF, Mu M, Wu J. Effects of blueberry on hepatic fibrosis and transcription factor Nrf2 in rats. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2657-63.

Fuentealba J, et al. Synaptic failure and adenosine triphosphate imbalance induced by amyloid-? aggregates are prevented by blueberry-enriched polyphenols extract. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2011 Sep;89(9):1499-508. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22679. Epub 2011 Jun 6.


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Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. maca says:

    Blueberries are on of my favorite fruits, but they would get very expensive if you ate them every day.

  2. Julie says:

    If you can pick your own they are somewhat cheaper. I pick them from a blueberry farm and freeze in quart jars to eat all winter. Very delicious and no pesticides and no one else handles them.

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