Medicinal plants

Blueberry - ingredients and effects

Blueberry - ingredients and effects



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The local blueberry is called "forest bilberry" in botany. It grows on acidic soil in moor, forest and heath and overshadows imported “superfood”. It not only overflows with vitamins and minerals, but also contains high levels of phytochemicals that prevent cancer, inhibit inflammation and relieve diabetes. In addition, the forest bilberry tastes excellent.

Profile of the blueberry

  • Scientific name: Vaccinium myrtillus
  • Common names: Wild blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, mulberry, wild berry, wild berry, bilberry, tickberry, cranberry or hay berry
  • family: Heather Family (Ericaceae)
  • Parts of plants used: Berries and leaves
  • distribution: Wild blueberries grow in humid and acidic humus soils in the north-temperate forests of Europe - in Germany, Poland, the Baltic States, Russia, Scandinavia, Great Britain and Iceland.
  • application areas:
    • diet
    • Prevention of flu infections
    • Strengthening the immune system against pathogenic microbes
    • Braking inflammation
    • Strengthening eyesight
    • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
    • Bone structure
    • Blood flow
    • Diuretic
    • presumably preventive effect against the formation of cancer cells

The most important facts

  • Blueberries contain a lot of vitamins C and E. This strengthens the immune system against bacteria and viruses, the skin, hair, teeth and bones.
  • Secondary plant substances in blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties, support the cardiovascular system and even slow down the development of cancer cells.
  • The contained beta-carotene promotes eyesight, especially night vision.
  • Minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium help against fatigue, keep the body's fluid metabolism going, prevent anemia, muscle weakness and build up the bones.
  • Tannins and fiber promote healthy digestion and help prevent inflammatory gastrointestinal complaints.
  • Of all the berries, only the goji berry and perhaps the apple berry (aronia) surpass the blueberry in terms of antioxidant substances. Raspberries or strawberries are far below that.
  • The cultivated bilberry is a cultivated form of the North American blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and is not identical to the European wild bilberry. The medical effects of both forms largely coincide. However, the anticarcinogenic and antioxidative anthocyanins are mostly in the shell and the proportion can be reduced for cultivars.

Blueberries - ingredients

Blueberry ranks in the Champions League of antioxidant fruits. It has various polyphenols such as flavonoids and phenolic acids that prevent cardiovascular problems.

Tannins in the berries combine body proteins, drain, calm the blood flow from wounds and soothe. Added to this are dimeric proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, which turn the berries blue, caffeoyl acids, which stimulate appetite, fruit acids, pectins, which strengthen the cell walls, and invert sugar, which contains grape and fructose sugar.

In the leaves are

  • Tannins,
  • Iridoids,
  • Phenol carboxylic acids,
  • Arbutin,
  • Hydroquinone,
  • herbal insulin,
  • Chromium, china and caffeic acid,
  • Erikolin
  • and manganese.

Blueberry contains a high level of vitamins A, C and E, B vitamins and the provitamin beta-carotene.

Beta carotene

As a pre-form of vitamin A, beta-carotene helps to transmit the genetic codes that signal the body to activate the proteins that the organism needs for everyday functions. Vitamin A plays an important role in eyesight, bone, hair, skin and tooth structure, the immune system, cell reproduction and the formation of hormones.

Vitamin B

The vitamin B complex keeps the metabolism (metabolism) running, makes it possible to absorb energy from food and to use it in the body. B vitamins strengthen nerve functions and support digestion. They help to utilize proteins, produce blood cells, use fats and form hormones. B vitamins also promote eyesight.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C strengthens the vessels and promotes the formation of collagen and thus the connective tissue, protects cell membranes from damage and regulates a hyperactive immune system. It helps against allergies and prevents viral diseases.

Vitamin E.

Vitamin E slows down the aging process, strengthens the nervous system, increases fertility and helps build muscles. It ensures that the cells work together and connects bones and muscles. It builds up skin and hair, helps against thin, brittle hair and hair loss, protects the skin's moisture supply, balances hormone levels and regulates digestion.

Anthocyanins

The term anthocyanins (English: anthocyanins) literally means "blue flower" (Greek: anthos for flower, kyanos for blue). They are water-soluble polyphenols. They are responsible for pink, red, blue and purple coloring of plants.

These phytonutrients help the body neutralize free radicals, which tends to prevent cancer and slow skin aging. Blueberry is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins - they give the berries their blue-black color.

Blueberries - calories and nutritional values

Blueberries have around 40 kilocalories per 100 grams and contain phenols that counteract the formation of new fat cells. That is why they are suitable for reducing weight. The calorific value of wild blueberries per 100 grams is 176 kilojoules. In addition to the 40 to 42 kilocalories, the berries offer 7.4 grams of carbohydrates and 0.6 grams of protein.

100 grams of blueberries contain:

  • 0.006 milligrams (mg) of vitamin A,
  • 0.02 mg vitamins B1 and B2,
  • 0.06 mg vitamin B6,
  • 22 mg vitamin C,
  • 1.85 mg vitamin E,
  • 0.4 mg niacin,
  • 0.7 mg iron,
  • 0.1 mg zinc,
  • 2 mg magnesium,
  • 5 mg chloride,
  • 13 mg each of calcium, phosphorus and sulfur
  • and 73 mg of potassium.

Cultivated blueberries

The cultivated blueberries available for sale in this country, which we also grow in gardens or harvest in plantations, came from crossings of the American blueberry with other species of the genus. In contrast to the forest bilberry, the cultivated bilberries have more white flesh and thicker skins. They contain fewer vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals than forest blueberries.

Antioxidant effects

Anthocyanins have a strong antioxidant effect and are also effective against potentially pathogenic microbes. The main function of the substances is in the plant pigment, which is said to attract insects and birds, but they also protect the plant from harmful microorganisms.

The content of anthocyanins in the berries varies depending on the environment, ripeness, sun exposure, temperature and the content of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil. Cultivation also plays a role. To make the anthocyanins work, be careful not to damage the shell, because this is where the highest proportion of them are.

Studies show that anthocyanins are said to stabilize DNA against oxidative stress, regulate insulin secretion, inhibit inflammation and stop cell death.

Cancer screening

In animal experiments, anthocyanins showed chemoprotective and therapeutic effects against cancer, but there is no evidence from clinical studies with humans.

Anti-inflammatory anthocyanins

Inflammation is initially a protective mechanism, but chronic inflammation increases oxidative stress and promotes various diseases. These include the two number 1 killers in later years: heart disease and cancer. Studies suggest that anthocyanins work against inflammation.

The effect of anthocyanins against inflammation is presumably indirect in that they selectively activate genes instead of acting directly antioxidatively. In healthy adults, for example, they reduce the plasma concentrations of transmitter substances that trigger inflammation.

A study by the University of Oslo showed that taking a product of concentrated blueberry anthocyanins for several weeks caused a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory chemokines and immune-regulating cytokines in healthy subjects. Cytokines are proteins that control the growth and differentiation of cells.

Diabetes

The leaves and berries of various types of blueberries have been used for centuries to relieve the symptoms of diabetes. Blueberry regulates blood sugar levels and is therefore suitable for developing agents for type 2 diabetes, as this is caused by insulin resistance. Anthocyanins stimulate the release of insulin and can promote the transport of glucose in muscle cells when there is no insulin.

Eyesight

Blueberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to correct vision disorders and improve vision. Such effects have been scientifically proven by studies. This has shown positive effects for abnormalities in the retina. Blueberry anthocyanins slowed the progression of eye cloudiness.

In particular, the water-soluble plant dyes improve night vision: in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with twelve subjects, the adjustment to darkness was faster for those who took anthocyanins than for the placebo group.

However, an analysis of 30 studies on the effect of blueberry anthocyanins on night vision came to the conclusion that the evidence is insufficient to recommend blueberries for medicines that improve the adaptation of visual perception to dark light conditions.

Blueberry tea

In naturopathy, the leaves of all types of blueberries are used as tea, which is supposed to lower the level of fat in the blood and ward off viruses. But you should enjoy it in moderation, since the leaves can cause (slight) poisoning if taken continuously.

Blue Berry muffins

American blueberry muffins (“blueberry muffins”) developed when immigrants from Great Britain interpreted their recipes for yeast pastries with the ingredients on site. The result was a batter with leavening agents such as baking powder and liquid shortening, flour, sugar, milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and eggs as well as American-style blueberries Vaccinium corymbosum.

Blueberry cake

The local counterpart to Blueberry Muffins is blueberry pie. These often have a base of butter, eggs and wheat flour, plus vanilla sugar, baking powder, salt and of course blueberries. Blackcurrants, strawberries, apple, pear, peach, apricot, buttermilk, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, oatmeal, almonds and coconut flakes go well with blueberries in the cake.

Plant blueberries

If you plant blueberries in the garden, you should choose the native species. The berries contain more vitamins and minerals than the cultivated forms and taste more intense, but also have more exquisite demands.

Local blueberries need a soil that is as nutrient-poor as acidic and humus-rich - our gardens are often too rich in nutrients for them. They are dwarf shrubs with flat roots, so you should not dig the planting hole deeply, but with a large diameter and distance from other plants.

Most garden soils in our latitudes are nutritious and loamy. If you don't live near the bog anyway, you can fill the planting hole with a mixture of sand and bark compost.

Lots of oxygen - no lime

Don't plant too deep. Heather plants are very sensitive when the roots are deprived of oxygen. The plant dies. The top edge of the globe should look a finger's breadth out of the ground. You pour bark compost all around. The soil must not contain lime. Even a small amount of lime causes the leaves to turn yellow.

In dry summers you have to water the blueberries more often because the peat plants love it moist. You should only use rainwater for this - tap water generally contains too much lime. It sticks to the roots and blocks growth. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Swell:

  • Oldendorf-Caspar, Sigrid: The Berry Book: Healthy Diversity - Cultivation in the Garden - Whole Recipes (German), Pala Verlag GmbH, 2009
  • Ebert, Georg: Cultivation of blueberries and cranberries, Ulmer Verlag, 2017
  • Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE): Blueberry: The sensitive fruit from forest and culture (available on March 25, 2020), BZfE
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