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Are Blueberries Ok on The Candida Diet?

Posted 2/12/2021

Written by Dr. Brittany Buysschaert, PhD


Blueberries are native to North America, particularly the Northeast. They belong to several species of the Vaccinium genus; Vaccinium corymbosum is the most common commercial variety in North America. The two main types of blueberries are lowbush and highbush blueberries, both of which are sold commercially. Lowbush blueberries are smaller and often more tart. Highbush blueberries are larger, slightly sweeter, and less tart than lowbush blueberries. Lowbush blueberries are generally wild but can be cultivated for commercial sale in fields called barrens. The area were these wild commercial berries grow is managed for pests and pruned, but blueberry bushes are not planted. Lowbush blueberries grow close to the ground while highbush blueberries grown on tall bushes. Blueberries need acidic soil. While native to cold climates, some varieties have adapted to warmer climates. The main blueberry variety grown in the Southern US is called the rabbit eye blueberry.

Indigenous peoples in Atlantic Canada and the US northeast have been consuming blueberries for thousands of years. Blueberries were first cultivated in North America in the early 1900s, and they were first brought to Europe in the 1930s. Blueberries are now grown around the world including in South America and Australia. Other very similar species of the genus Vaccinium are native to Europe and Asia. Although not always called blueberries, they are similar in color, size, and taste. One example is the bilberry. The United States is the world’s leading producer of blueberries, producing 37% of the world’s blueberries with 250,000 metric tons per year. Despite blueberries being native to the Northeast, most of US blueberries are produced in Oregon and Washington. Peru is the world’s largest exporter of blueberries, exporting 23% of the world’s total with approximately 127,000 metric tons.


Fresh-Blueberries-on-a-Table

Nutrient Profile of Blueberries

One ½ cup serving of blueberries contains 43 calories. They a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and manganese. Blueberries are also a source of carbohydrates, including fiber.


Carbohydrates

Blueberries contain 11 grams of carbohydrates per serving, including 7 grams of sugar. Blueberries have a glycemic index of 53, making them a low glycemic food.



Fibers

Blueberries contain 2 grams of fiber per serving. The fiber in blueberries is approximately 30% soluble fiber and 70% insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber can be helpful in preventing constipation and promotes regular bowel movements. Soluble fiber also aids in healthy bowel movements, can lower cholesterol, and helps diabetics maintain blood glucose levels.



Protein

Blueberries are not a significant source of protein, containing 0.5 grams per serving.


Fats

Blueberries are not a significant source of fat, containing 0.2 grams per serving.


Vitamins & Minerals

Blueberries are a good source of Manganese (15% of the FDA recommended daily value), Vitamin K (12% of the FDA recommended daily value) and Vitamin C (11% of the FDA recommended daily value). Vitamin K helps with bone maintenance and blood clotting. Vitamin C helps protect the immune system and protects against oxidative stress. Manganese helps with bone maintenance and protects against oxidative stress.


Antioxidants in Blueberries

Blueberries have a high antioxidant capacity and are considered a superfruit. Their high antioxidant capacity is due to their content of anthocyanins and total phenolics (1). Anthocyanins are the natural colorant present in blueberries which gives them their blue or purple hue. Anthocyanins are the phenolic compound with the highest antioxidant capacity (2). The majority of phenolic compounds in blueberries are anthocyanins which account for 60% of blueberry phenolic content (3).

Aside from anthocyanins, the major phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity in blueberries are hydroxycinnamic acids including chlorogenic acid (4). The antioxidant content of blueberries is high not only for fresh blueberries but also for frozen blueberries, puréed blueberries, blueberry juice, and dried blueberries (4). The main health benefits of blueberries are due to the presence of anthocyanins, which will be discussed in more detail below.


Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries have numerous health benefits. Eating just 1/3 cup of blueberries per day is associated with reduced risk of disease (5). Multiple studies have linked blueberry consumption to a 10% decrease in risk of developing hypertension (5).


Cardiovascular Benefits

Consuming blueberries reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes (5). Weight gain is one of the primary risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. One prospective study showed that blueberries were the fruit which was associated with the least weight gain over the course of several decades of patients’ lives (6). Another study linked anthocyanin intake with less weight gain (7). Both of these studies show that eating blueberries could have positive outcomes for lowering risk of cardiovascular disease by avoiding weight gain. Higher blueberry intake was associated with a 32% reduction in heart attacks, even when individuals had other risk factors associated with cardiovascular issues (8).


Anti-diabetic Benefits

In patients with diabetes, consuming blueberries caused a decrease in low density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol as well as total triglycerides (9). Individuals who consume blueberries had a 26% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not consume blueberries (10). Even consuming just two servings of blueberries per week was associated with a 23% lower risk of developing diabetes (11). For individuals with diabetes, those who consumed blueberries for 6 weeks had greater insulin sensitivity than individuals who did not consume blueberries (12).


Cognitive Benefits of Blueberry Consumption

After 12 weeks of daily blueberry consumption, cognitive performance improved in elderly adults (13). High consumption of blueberries is associated with reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (14). Higher intake of blueberries is also associated with slower cognitive decline, with blueberry consumption leading to an average cognitive decline 2.5 year later compared to individuals who did not consume blueberries (15). Consuming a blueberry powder led to improvements in day to day function as well as memory in elderly patients (16). Blueberry powder enhances the memories of children as well. Children who consumed one dose of blueberry powder did better on memory tests than children given placebo powders (17).


Negative Health Effects of Blueberries

There are no known negative health effects of blueberries. In rare cases individuals can be allergic to blueberries; this allergy is very uncommon.


Blueberries on The Candida Diet

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (148g) of raw blueberries.


Calories: 84

Fat: 0.5g

Sodium: 1.5mg

Carbohydrates: 21g

Fiber: 3.6g

Sugars: 15g

Protein: 1g

Vitamin C: 14.4mg


In spite of the 21g of carbs and 15g of natural sugars, the glycemic index of 53 is below 55 and is considered to be on the high side of low. The glycemic load is 11 which is over the generally accepted as low level of 10.

If you reduce the 1 cup serving size to ½ a cup we get 11g of carbs and 7.5 g of sugar. The glycemic load drops to 6 which is low.

With all the health benefits blueberries offer including a low glycemic load when consuming a ½ cup serving, and taking into account that you cannot cut off all carbs on the Candida Diet or you will reduce your immune function; consuming that ½ cup serving a few times a week would be more than acceptable. Just add the carbs into your daily total and go from there.


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If you have any questions about the Candida diet or yeast infections in general, please feel free to contact use from the contact page of this website or talk to your doctor.


Medical References


1. Prior, R. L., Cao, G., Martin, A., Sofic, E., McEwen, J., O'Brien, C., ... & Mainland, C. M. (1998). Antioxidant capacity as influenced by total phenolic and anthocyanin content, maturity, and variety of Vaccinium species. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 46(7), 2686-2693.
2. Faria, A., Oliveira, J., Neves, P., Gameiro, P., Santos-Buelga, C., de Freitas, V., & Mateus, N. (2005). Antioxidant properties of prepared blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) extracts. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(17), 6896-6902.
3. Kalt, W., Lawand, C., Ryan, D. A., McDonald, J. E., Donner, H., & Forney, C. F. (2003). Oxygen radical absorbing capacity, anthocyanin and phenolic content of highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) during ripening and storage. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 128(6), 917-923.
4. Kalt, W., McDonald, J. E., & Donner, H. (2000). Anthocyanins, phenolics, and antioxidant capacity of processed lowbush blueberry products. Journal of Food Science, 65(3), 390-393
5. Kalt, W., Cassidy, A., Howard, L. R., Krikorian, R., Stull, A. J., Tremblay, F., & Zamora-Ros, R. (2020). Recent research on the health benefits of blueberries and their anthocyanins. Advances in Nutrition, 11(2), 224-236.
6. Bertoia, M. L., Mukamal, K. J., Cahill, L. E., Hou, T., Ludwig, D. S., Mozaffarian, D., ... & Rimm, E. B. (2015). Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables and weight change in United States men and women followed for up to 24 years: analysis from three prospective cohort studies. PLoS Med, 12(9), e1001878.
7. Bertoia, M. L., Rimm, E. B., Mukamal, K. J., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., & Cassidy, A. (2016). Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years. BMJ, 352.
8. Cassidy, A., Mukamal, K. J., Liu, L., Franz, M., Eliassen, A. H., & Rimm, E. B. (2013). High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation, 127(2), 188-196.
9. Li, D., Zhang, Y., Liu, Y., Sun, R., & Xia, M. (2015). Purified anthocyanin supplementation reduces dyslipidemia, enhances antioxidant capacity, and prevents insulin resistance in diabetic patients. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(4), 742-748.
10. Muraki, I., Imamura, F., Manson, J. E., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., van Dam, R. M., & Sun, Q. (2013). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ, 347.
11. Wedick, N. M., Pan, A., Cassidy, A., Rimm, E. B., Sampson, L., Rosner, B., ... & van Dam, R. M. (2012). Dietary flavonoid intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(4), 925-933.
12. Stull, A. J., Cash, K. C., Johnson, W. D., Champagne, C. M., & Cefalu, W. T. (2010). Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. The Journal of Nutrition, 140(10), 1764-1768.
13. Krikorian, R., Shidler, M. D., Nash, T. A., Kalt, W., Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M. R., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Joseph, J. A. (2010). Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(7), 3996-4000.
14. Gao, X., Cassidy, A., Schwarzschild, M. A., Rimm, E. B., & Ascherio, A. (2012). Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology, 78(15), 1138-1145.
15. Devore, E. E., Kang, J. H., Breteler, M. M., & Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology, 72(1), 135-143.
16. McNamara, R. K., Kalt, W., Shidler, M. D., McDonald, J., Summer, S. S., Stein, A. L., ... & Krikorian, R. (2018). Cognitive response to fish oil, blueberry, and combined supplementation in older adults with subjective cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging, 64, 147-156.
17. Whyte, A. R., & Williams, C. M. (2015). Effects of a single dose of a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink on memory in 8 to 10 y old children. Nutrition, 31(3), 531-534.



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