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AICR Food Facts  >  Foods That Fight Cancer

Blueberries: Increase Antioxidant Activity in the Blood

This content was last updated on December 6, 2019

The Cancer Research

Blueberries contain many phytochemicals and nutrients which show potential anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies.

Several studies found that eating blueberries increases antioxidant activity in the blood as well as showing potential to prevent DNA damage. Studies are limited and results vary so more research is needed to understand blueberries’ role in these areas.

 

Interpreting the data

After a systematic review of the global scientific literature, AICR/WCRF analyzed how fruits and their nutrients affect the risk of developing cancer.

  • Evidence categorized as “convincing” or “probable” means there is strong research showing a causal relationship to cancer—either decreasing or increasing the risk. The research must include quality human studies that meet specific criteria and biological explanations for the findings.
    • A convincing or probable judgement is strong enough to justify recommendations.
  • There is probable evidence that foods with dietary fiber DECREASE the risk of:
    • colorectal cancer
  • There is probable evidence that fruit and non-starchy vegetables combined DECREASE the risk of:
    • cancers of the aerodigestive tract (mouth, pharynx, nasopharynx, esophagus, lung, stomach, and colorectal cancers)
  • Evidence categorized as “limited suggestive” means results are generally consistent in overall conclusions, but it’s rarely strong enough to justify recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Limited evidence suggests that foods containing vitamin C may DECREASE the risk of:
    • lung cancer (in people who smoke) and squamous cell esophageal cancer
    • colon cancer

Source: AICR/WCRF. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, 2018.

Ongoing Areas of Investigation

  • Tips for Selection, Storage and Preparation
    Selection:
    • Choose firm, plump, dry blueberries with dusty blue color. Avoid berries that are soft, shriveled or with any sign of mold.
    • Buy frozen blueberries too. These also are high in nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals.
    • Treat yourself to wild blueberries with even more antioxidant power than the more common cultivated blueberries.
    Storage:
    • Refrigerate blueberries for up to 10 days.
    • Wait to wash until ready to eat.
    Preparation Ideas:
    • Whirl blueberries alone or with other fruits into a smoothie or fruit freeze drink.
    • Top cereal or yogurt with fresh or dried blueberries.
    • Add blueberries to a green salad.
    • Blueberries play well with other fruits! Alone or in combinations, enjoy them in muffins, pancakes, and fruit crumble or crisp desserts.
    • Be creative with blueberries: try a blueberry quesadilla with wild blueberry sauce.

References

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