Blueberries have long been a part of the American diet; they were domesticated in the early 1900s and used in folk medicine as a cure for stomach upset. Today, blueberries make regular appearances in foods ranging from yogurts to baked goods to juices and have earned a reputation as a disease-fighting "superfood." Blueberries come packed with nutritional value, and each serving provides several nutrients that support your health.
Macronutrients and Fiber
Blueberries provide carbohydrates -- 21.5 grams per cup, of which 3.6 grams are dietary fiber. Carbohydrates provide energy to fuel your active lifestyle and support the function of several organs, including your kidneys and brain. Fiber keeps your digestive system functioning properly, increases your sense of being sated after a meal and promotes cardiovascular health. The fiber in a cup of blueberries makes up 10 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. Blueberries also provide a small amount of protein -- 1.1 grams per cup -- and half a gram of fat per serving.
Eating blueberries is a delicious way to boost your vitamin intake. Blueberries are an especially rich source of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps you metabolize fats and keep tendons and ligaments healthy. Each serving of blueberries provides 14.4 milligrams of vitamin C -- 19 and 16 percent of the recommended daily dose for women and men, respectively. Blueberries also contain ample amounts of vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood-clot formation. A cup of blueberries has 28.6 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 23 percent of the daily amount recommended for men and 32 percent for women.
Blueberries also provide a significant amount of the essential mineral manganese, as well as smaller amounts of iron, copper and potassium. Manganese helps neutralize toxic chemicals, called reactive oxygen species, that are produced as a side effect of cellular metabolism. Getting enough manganese in your diet also keeps your bones and cartilage strong and helps you metabolize protein. A cup of blueberries has 0.497 milligrams of manganese, which is 22 percent of the recommended daily amount for men and 28 percent for women.
Blueberries owe their deep purple hue to their anthocyanin content. These pigments also provide health benefits. For example, anthocyanins affect the function of rhodopsin -- a protein involved in vision -- and a diet rich in anthocyanins is associated with good vision, notes the Pennington Nutrition Series, a publication of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Anthocyanins also fight chronic diseases, including heart disease and degenerative-nerve disorders.
- University of Vermont Extension: Health and History of Highbush Blueberries
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Blueberries, Raw
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin K
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C
- Pennington Nutrition Series: Anthocyanins