Arthritis affects approximately 20 percent of Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Though not a miracle food, blueberries have shown to be beneficial to helping those with arthritis. The phytochemicals that give this berry its bluish color provide antioxidants, combating many of the symptoms arthritis patients deal with daily.
Quercetin and anthocyanin are antioxidants, more specifically bioflavonoids. There are actually many types of fruit that also contain these protectors from free radicals, molecules that damage organs and cells. Blueberries contain the highest levels of these antioxidants. Although most berries contain three or four types of anthocyanins, blueberries have 20. “Arthritis Today” cited a study by James Joseph, Ph.D., of Tufts University that showed consuming between a half a cup and a full cup of berries each day can improve motor performance and cognition.
There are many types of arthritis. The majority of them -- including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid -- involve inflammation. MSNBC’s “Today Health” column sites two nutrients within blueberries as inflammation fighters. These antioxidants can help slow the progression of arthritis inflammation. Less inflammation means less wear on the joints and less pain to the patient.
Memory problems are a possible symptom of some forms of arthritis, including fibromyalgia. A study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" showed improvement of the memory of older adults who consumed blueberries. The research was led by Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.
It doesn’t appear to matter where your blueberries come from or what you do with them to reap the arthritis benefits. Tara Parker-Pope of “Well Blog,” published by the New York Times, suggests blueberries to be one of the best foods you can eat. She offers suggestions for consuming blueberries with oatmeal, in rice pudding, on salads, blended in smoothies and layered in yogurt parfaits.
Consuming blueberries in any form is not considered harmful, and Dr. Krikorian says there would be no negative effects. It should be considered that the amount of blueberry juice consumed in his study was nearly 20 oz., so the extra calories should be figured into -- not added to -- a healthy diet.
Blueberries may help many symptoms of arthritis, but that doesn't mean you should eliminate medications you're taking. Discuss your improved symptoms with your doctor and continue to regularly take anything that was prescribed until told otherwise.