Blueberries – What You Need To Know Before You Even Think About Adding Them To Your Morning Yogurt

This week I want to talk about another powerful fruit — blueberries! I promise all of my posts will not be about berries, but the research I am about to tell you about is far too interesting not to share.

person holding blueberries
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As you might already know, blueberries have lots of antioxidants. Similar to what I discussed last week in my post about amla, blueberries contain a family of antioxidants called polyphenols. They are rich in anthocyanins, which is found in darkly pigmented fruits like blueberries and blackberries, phenolic acid, and other flavonoids.

Evidence suggests that the antioxidants and compounds in blueberries may combine to give rise to protection against atherosclerosis. The review made this claim based upon a number of human studies that concluded consumption of blueberries may lower blood pressure, reduce arterial wall stiffness, modestly protect against oxidative DNA damage in high-risk populations, increase nitric oxide production, and have immune-modulating effects.

It is important to note that the number of in vivo human studies determining the potentially protective benefits of blueberry consumption on atherosclerosis is still relatively low, but it is growing and in my opinion, the data appear promising.

There is also a growing body of research evidence implicating consumption of blueberries and other amazing health benefits. I do not want to dive too much into that in this post, but if you’re curious, check out Dr. Greger’s website (one of his posts inspired this one) or let me know and I can make another post on the topic it in the future.

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If you were not already aware before, I hope that I have helped you to realize that the antioxidants in plant foods, like blueberries, help give them many of their healthy properties. I think this is something that our society is becoming more and more aware of, which I hope has led more and more people to include blueberries into their regular diet. I for one love frozen ones in my daily bowl of oatmeal!

If you are like me, before I was plant-based, you might enjoy putting blueberries into your yogurt as a way of trying to incorporate this amazing fruit into your diet. However, did you know that evidence suggests consuming blueberries with milk products actually lowers the total antioxidant capacity of the body?

blueberries in clear parfait glass
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In this crossover study, half the participants were fed 200g blueberries with 200ml of water, while the other half were given 200g blueberries and 200ml of whole milk. The available antioxidants were measured in vivo. One week later, the experiment was repeated, except that the participants swapped groups, allowing individuals to be their own control group (pretty cool!).

Once the researchers crunched the data they found that the participants ingesting blueberries and water had a significant increase in bioavailability of antioxidants in their bloodstream following a meal, whereas participants eating blueberries and whole milk and a significant reduction in the bioavailability of antioxidant in their bloodstream.

Let me say that again just to let it sink in. Consuming blueberries with whole milk dropped their total antioxidant capacity to a level lower than before they ate!

The researchers’ in vitro analysis of different milk fat concentrations showed a step-wise reduction in total antioxidant capacity as the amount of milk fat added to the sample increased. In their discussion, they state that this data aligns with previous research done that also found that whole milk, compared to reduced-fat or skim milk, consumed with chocolate or tea reduces the total antioxidant capacity of the body the most. It is worth mentioning that the lower fat dairy products did still lower participants’ total antioxidant capacity in those studies, but whole milk had the strongest observable effect.

glass of blueberry juice
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Therefore, it appears that consumption of milk products with antioxidant rich foods, like blueberries, may actually reduce the total antioxidant capacity of our bodies.

Wow, wow wow!!

So interesting right?! Or is just me? Comment below and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I am a naturopathic medical student, not a licensed physician. The opinions expressed are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of the entire naturopathic doctor community. Nothing on my blog is intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult a licensed physician before making any lifestyle or dietary changes.