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Blueberry

Blueberries are a fruit that contain a lot of molecules called anthocyanins. These antioxidant compounds are often supplemented for their ability to improve cognition.

Our evidence-based analysis on blueberry features 169 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Blueberry

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Blueberries are a small, blue-purple fruit that belong to the genus vaccinium, which also includes cranberries and bilberries.

Blueberries are a popular food and frequently supplemented. The antioxidant and anthocyanin content of blueberries makes them particularly effective at reducing cognitive decline, supporting cardiovascular health, protecting the liver, and reducing liver fat buildup.

Blueberries may also have a potential nootropic effect. They have been found to improve cognition in people undergoing cognitive decline, but there is also some rodent evidence that suggests blueberries can improve cognition in healthy young people as well. They may also have a role to play in promoting the growth of nervous tissue and reducing neurological inflammation.

Blueberries can be eaten or supplemented through blueberry powder. Isolated anthocyanins are also an effective supplement. Blueberries are both a food product and dietary supplement.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Blueberries can be supplemented through a blueberry extract, isolated anthocyanins, or frozen or fresh blueberries.

The optimal dose for blueberry extract is 5.5 – 11g, with the higher end of the dose being more effective. The optimal range for isolated anthocyanin supplementation is 500-1,000mg. The optimal dose for blueberry extract translates to approximately 60-120g of fresh berries.

Blueberries should be eaten or supplemented daily. They are best stored in cold environments, like a refrigerator. Blanching blueberries is known to increase anthocyanin bioavailability, but excessive heat treatment or exposure will degrade the anthocyanin content.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects blueberry has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
DNA damage appears to be acutely decreased following consumption of blueberries or its extracts (375mg anthocyanins or more) and tends to be in the range of a 20% reduction.
grade-b - High See all 5 studies
Although the leaf extract has once been associated with a reduction in blood glucose, the fruits do not appear to inhibit carbohydrate absorption nor reduce fasting glucose concentrations.
grade-c Minor - See all 3 studies
A decrease in blood pressure has been noted in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease (6% systolic and 4% diastolic), but this may be limited to high risk individuals only.
grade-c Minor - See study
Supplementation of blueberry extract does appear effective in elderly persons with general cognitive decline, able to improve cognition and memory.
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Oral ingestion of berries or their extracts tends to reduce oxidative biomarkers and improve antioxidant status either acutely or with daily supplementation
grade-c Minor - See study
Insulin has once been noted to be decreased in elderly persons with blueberry ingestion.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
An improvement of insulin sensitivity has been noted in persons with insulin resistance, but this may only affect high risk individuals.
grade-c Minor - See study
Memory formation in elderly subjects can be improved with daily supplementation of blueberries or their extract
grade-c Minor - See study
Appears to reduce biomarkers of muscle damage such as creatine kinase
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
There appears to be a reduction in LDL oxidation, with the one chronic study suggesting a 27% reduction (the acute study noting less of a protective effect).
grade-c Minor - See study
A slight improvement in subjective well being and happiness has been noted in elderly persons given blueberries over a few weeks as a daily supplement.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on appetite or satiety
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
C-reactive protein does not appear to be influenced with blueberry supplementation.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on HDL-C
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No known interactions with heart rate and blueberry supplementation.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on IL-6 concentrations in serum
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant changes in LDL-C concentrations in serum with blueberries.
grade-c - - See study
Despite the reduction in muscle damage and increased rate of recovery, there are no significant changes in subjective muscle soreness
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
Blueberries do not appear to significantly influence nitric oxide metabolism
grade-c - - See study
No significant changes in TNF-alpha concentrations
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on total cholesterol concentrations in the blood.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No known interactions with serum triglycerides following supplementation of blueberries.
grade-d Minor - See study
May affect brachial-ankle measures of stiffness, but does not affect carotid-femoral stiffness.
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in IL-10 following exercise has been noted.
grade-d Minor - See study
Alongside the reduction in serum oxidation comes a reduction in lipid peroxidation biomarkers such as MDA
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in natural killer cells has been noted in the range of 76-122% following physical exercise.
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on adiponectin concentrations in obese individuals
grade-d - - See study
Chronic loading of blueberries with an acute dose prior to prolonged exercise (2.5 hours) in trained men does not improve physical performance.
grade-d - - See study
No significant alterations in cell adhesion factors (sCAM-1 and vCAM-1)
grade-d - - See study
Exercise-induced changes in cortisol are not influence by blueberry supplementation
grade-d - - See study
The alterations in most immune cells seen during exercise are wholly unaffected by blueberry supplementation.
grade-d - - See study
The lone study using a 2.5 hour running protocol at 72% VO2 max failed to find any significant differences between groups in oxidative status after exercise.
grade-d - - See study
Currently no studies noting changes in HbA1c, as it appears to be unaffected by supplementation.
grade-d - - See study
The study to measure nF-kB binding activity in muscle tissue after exercise failed to find an influence of blueberry supplementation.
grade-d - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on weight when taken as a daily supplement in obese individuals.

Studies Excluded from Consideration

Note: This table includes studies on fresh blueberries, dehydrated blueberry extract, and isolated anthocyanins if they were extracted from blueberry, expand on individual studies for details on dosing

  • Confounded with the inclusion of other berries[1]

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Blueberry

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Blueberries, Blue berries

Goes Well With

  • Blanching (increases bioavailability of anthocyanins)

  • Cold storage and oxygen exposure (increases anthocyanin content of blueberry powder)

  • Studies that measure blueberry intake in rats tend to use dehydrated powders rather than blueberry fruits, and thus the weight is in reference to dry weight rather than wet weight

  • Blueberries are heat sensitive, and it would be prudent to refrigerate blueberry supplements

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Click here to see all 169 references.