Blueberries: Effect of the low-calorie snack for athletes

Blueberry

General information about blueberry

The blueberry is also called blueberry, wild berry or blackberry. It belongs to the heather family. A distinction is made between true blueberries and cultivated blueberries, which originated in North America. 

Blueberries owe their blue color to the pigment myrtillin. This belongs to the anthocyanins, which in turn belong to the secondary plant substances.

The true blueberry is particularly intense in taste and rich in colorants. It grows in northern zones of Europe and in Asia.

The cultivated blueberry grows significantly larger than the true blueberry, but the content of color soot is slightly lower. This can also be recognized by the fact that its flesh is white and not blue, like that of the true blueberry.

The blueberry has been traded for some time as a so-called domestic “superfood” and finds its use, among other things, in the regulation of high cholesterol levels and to help with heart disease.

Few calories and low glycemic index

Among fruits, blueberries tend to have a low calorie count of 36 kilocalories per 100 grams. The sugar content is also rather low compared to other fruits. 

In addition, they have a low glycemic index and do not noticeably increase blood sugar levels.

On the contrary, current research indicates that blueberries have an anti-diabetic effect, can positively regulate blood sugar levels and increase sugar absorption into cells.

Nutrients & effect of blueberries

Important Antioxidants

The so-called anthocyanins (from the group of flavonoids) are secondary plant substances with strong antioxidant effects. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and inactivate oxygen radicals.

This is especially important for athletes. Athletes repeatedly expose their bodies to stressful situations. In response, the body forms free radicals – oxidative stress reactions occur and oxygen radicals are formed.

Blueberries are particularly rich in anthocyanins, these provide optimal cell protection, that is: they can counteract these cell damage.

Blueberries are among the fruits that have the highest antioxidant potential, comparable to that of goji and aronia berries. Fresh cultivated blueberries have a content of up to 438 mg of anthocyanins per 100 g.

High content of vitamin C and E strengthen the immune system

As far as vitamins are concerned, the blueberry scores with its vitamin C and E content. Per 100g blueberries can be found about 2g vitamin E and 20g vitamin C.

Vitamin C promotes the formation of collagen and strengthens blood vessels. Furthermore, vitamin C can protect cell membranes from damage and support the immune system.

Vitamin E is a strong radical scavenger and, as an antioxidant in membranes, prevents the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids.

Vitamin E also plays a role as a component of enzyme systems in the mitochondria, more specifically in the respiratory chain. Therefore, there is reason to believe that vitamin E may have an effect on aerobic performance.

The content of vitamins in combination with the anthocyanins contained supports the immune system and can mitigate the spread of viruses and bacteria.  

Minerals (mg) per 100g

Sodium

1

Potassium

80

Calcium

10

Magnesium

2

Phophate

15

Iron

0,7

Zinc

0,1

Vitamins per 100g

Beta-carotene

35

Vitamin E (mg)

2,1

Vitamin B1 (mg)

0,02

Vitamin B2 (mg)

0,02

Vitamin B6 (mg)

0,06

Folic acid

10

Vitamin C

20

The value of iron in blueberries is rather in the middle range, but the mineral is better absorbed by the combination with the high vitamin C values. This additionally supports the immune system and also promotes blood formation and oxygen transport to the cells, from which, among other things, the muscle tissue also benefits.

The high availability of iron is particularly interesting for female endurance athletes. Due to the very high iron requirement, very many are affected by an iron deficiency. This has a bad effect on health and performance.

Studies on the special effect of blueberries for endurance athletes

In a study by McAnulty et al. investigated the effects on athletes of consuming 250g of blueberries a day (for 6 weeks) and ingesting 375g of blueberries one hour before a 2.5 hour endurance exercise (running, 72% Vo2max).

It was found that blueberry consumption was associated with a reduction in biomarkers signaling oxidative stress and infection.

A significant increase was also shown by natural killer cells and plasma IL-10 (interleukin – 10). Both natural killer cells and interleukin -10 have numerous supporting functions in our immune system.

The increase in natural killer cells is particularly remarkable, as the number of these is normally reduced after physical exercise. [2]

McLeay et al. have looked at the effect of blueberry consumption on regeneration.

Two blueberry smoothies were consumed before and immediately after training. The workout was an isometric workout, so it was not an endurance workout.

The researchers concluded that the consumption of blueberries accelerated regeneration. 

However, it must be remembered that in this study, 200g of blueberries were ingested 4 times a day. Eating 800g of blueberries a day turns out to be not very realistic.

Nevertheless, blueberries remain interesting for athletes because of the special effect. The high density of minerals as well as secondary plant substances helps defend against free radicals. This makes blueberries great little helpers both during and after physical exertion.

The superpowers of blueberry combined with natural energy suppliers

Our PORRIDGE BAR BLUEBERRY combines powerful carbohydrates with the many beneficial properties of blueberries. The natural ingredients such as oats, almond protein, quinoa bran and blueberry make the bar the optimal energy source for your workout.

The PORRIDGE BAR is easily digestible, tastes good even after long, hard workouts thanks to the combination of almond protein and blueberry and supports your immune system with natural powers.

Sources

[1] Y. McLeay, M. J. Barnes, T. Mundel, S. M. Hurst, R. D. Hurst, and S. R. Stannard, “Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage,” J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. vol. 9, no. 1, p. 1, 2012, doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-19.

[2] L. S. McAnulty et al, “Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running,” Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 976-984, 2011, doi: 10.1139/H11-120.

Our sports nutrition product with blueberries

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