When it comes to fruit, berries are where it’s at in terms of nutrition. They may seem like only a summertime staple, but they should be on your table (from starring in an a.m. smoothie to topping a dinner salad) year-round—especially blueberries. “Blueberries are little nutrition powerhouses, loaded with antioxidants,” says Sara Haas, a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef in Chicago. “They’re believed to help prevent everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s.”
That’s far from all the health benefits of these teeny berries. They can do everything from helping ward off colds to giving your gym sessions a boost. Here’s what you need to know about the fruit, plus an extra-nutritious spin on one of your favorite blueberry recipes.
Nutrition Facts (per 1 cup blueberries)
Protein 1.1 g
Fat .49 g
Carbs 22 g
Fiber 4 g
Sugar 15 g
Calcium 9 mg
Iron .41 mg
Magnesium 9 mg
Potassium 114 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc .24 mg
Vitamin C 14.4 mg
Vitamin B6 .07 µg
Folate 9 µg
Vitamin B12 0 µg
Vitamin A RAE 4 µg
Vitamin A IU 80 µg
Vitamin E .84 mg
Vitamin D 0 IU
Vitamin K 28.6 µg
They could help keep you healthy this winter.
Forget an apple a day. Because blueberries pack in vitamin A and vitamin C, eating them could keep the doctor away this cold and flu season. Vitamin A boosts your immunity, while C acts as a powerful antioxidant, Haas says. A small dose of zinc may also help you ward off or shorten a cold. If fresh berries are hard to find or too pricey throughout the winter, opt for frozen. They’re frozen at their peak, so they have the same nutrition.
They’re one of the most nutritious berries.
Compared with other berries, blueberries boast plenty of phytonutrients and antioxidants, “which help improve cognitive and cardiovascular health and prevent diseases such as diabetes and cancer,” Haas says. They also support eye health and reproductive health (by way of vitamin A) and contain folate, a B vitamin shown to support DNA production and lower your risk of stroke.
They’re high in antioxidants.
This type of berry is tops for packing in antioxidants, substances that help prevent cell damage and ward off all kinds of health conditions. All blueberries contain major antioxidants, but wild blueberries might have even more. “A few studies point to wild blueberries having more and a larger variety of antioxidants than high-bush or farmed, but both rank high in antioxidant properties among fruits, so they’re a great option no matter which you choose,” Haas says.
They help keep you full.
A cup of blueberries provides 4 grams of fiber, Haas says, which keeps you full by taking up space in your stomach and digesting slowly. Their high water content (124 grams per cup) also helps you stay satisfied longer.
They support your workout.
With a quick dose of carbs and sugar, blueberries are a natural way to keep up your glycogen (your muscles’ go-to energy source) during and after workouts. That’s especially important if you’re doing long sessions that could leave your muscles depleted. Plus, their potassium helps with muscle function and also supports your cardiovascular health, Haas says.
They boost your breakfast.
Blueberries are the perfect addition of fiber and flavor to yogurt or smoothies. You can also toss a few in your cereal or oatmeal or on top of waffles or pancakes. (Grains can help you absorb certain nutrients such as zinc, while butter, nuts, or yogurt with some fat will help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A and K.)
Let the berries be the star of your breakfast table with Haas’s nutritious twist on classic muffins. “I really enjoy muffins, but often they don’t pack enough nutrition and leave me feeling unsatisfied,” she says. She created this one with lots of protein and fiber to keep you fuller longer. The recipe includes Greek yogurt, which gives the muffins a dose of calcium and protein plus a dense texture you can sink your teeth into. Bonus: Crystalized ginger adds a touch of sweetness and a zing of flavor not found in typical berry muffins.
Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins With Crystallized Ginger
Whip up these healthy and delicious blueberry muffins for an easy way to add blueberries to your daily diet.
by Sara Haas, Culinary Dietitian; makes 12 muffins
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ cup oil
1 large egg
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup wild blueberries or 1½ cups regular blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, and sugar. Stir in the yogurt.
- Gently fold liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing to combine (note that this batter is very dry, so be careful not to over-mix). Fold in the blueberries.
- Spoon half of the batter into the baking cups.
- Mix together cinnamon, sugar, and ginger.
- Sprinkle half of the mixture over the batter, then top with the remaining batter. Place in the oven, and bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, remove from the pan and enjoy.