Native to North America, this delicious berry has been a favourite of many for generations and may have been eaten by early humans as early as 10,000 years ago!
However it’s not the history of this berry that makes it interesting, but rather the fact that eating blueberries can directly help you sleep and boost your immune system!
We explain how, next.
Disclaimer: You must always consult your doctor before including a new supplement or food into your daily routine as only your doctor can explain any pros or cons that are specific to you. Some supplements & foods may interfere with medications and/or cause allergic reactions.
The Health Rundown: What Blueberries Could Offer You!
With its anti-inflammatory properties, blueberries can play a role in boosting your immune system. That’s because many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation.
Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like blueberries and strawberry – is a no-brainer.
Studies have backed up the science too. One research concluded that blueberries could protect your eyes and benefit eye health, another saw signs that blueberries could be a natural way to manage inflammatory bowel disease.
Blueberries are also packed with anthocyanins – a compound that gives them their distinct color! This compound is an antioxidant, which means it has the potential to protect your cells and tissue from damage.
Antioxidants are also important for sleep as they appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant rich foods – such as blueberries – help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like chia seeds or blueberries – should be a priority.
It’s not just lip service either. Studies have concluded that consuming blueberries can help cognitive capability, reduce cholesterol, and could even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Blueberries appear to be good if you want to lose weight too. Anthocyanins have been documented to have an anti-obesity effect, whilst one 12 week trial saw favourable reductions in body weight when 50 g of carbohydrate was replaced with 50 g blueberries daily. So eating blueberries may help you lose weight when part of a weight loss diet.
Blueberries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown blueberries to have a positive effect on health, protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Blueberries Before Bed: The Surprising Sleep Aid
They’re not only tasty and healthy, but the nutrients in blueberries can also help sleep duration and quality.
That’s because blueberries are a good source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin. Therefore eating blueberries before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Tryptophan also helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce that all-important sleep hormone – melatonin!
Blueberries are also a rich source of folate – known as Vitamin B9. This essential vitamin tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating blueberries could directly help sleep quality.
Eating blueberries before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin – and nutrients like folate. All of which have been shown to have an effect on sleep quality.
Incorporating Blueberries Into Your Diet
Blueberries can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. They are delicious and can be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many different ways to incorporate blueberries into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, as part of a smoothie, or even eaten with ice cream.
For full sleep benefits, a few blueberries in a smoothie with some sleep superfoods like kiwi and chia seeds an hour or two before bedtime will suffice.
What About Potential Side Effects?
If you don’t have a blueberry allergy then moderate consumption of blueberries shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating blueberries in excess could lead to side effects like bloating, gas, diarrhoea and heartburn.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.