Manage your osteoarthritis with the help of blueberries
09/25/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Manage your osteoarthritis with the help of blueberries

Adults looking for ways to prevent or manage osteoarthritis should consider making the nutritious blueberry a staple in their diets, according to a team of researchers from Texas Woman’s University.

The researchers, in a paper published in the journal Nutrients, noted that this could be linked to the fruits’ rich stores of polyphenols – a group of plant chemicals that exhibit incredibly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The researchers arrived at this particular conclusion after conducting a four-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which they split their pool of participants – 63 men and women between the ages of 45 to 79, all of whom had self-reported symptomatic osteoarthritis – into two random groups.

One group received 40 grams of freeze-dried, whole blueberry powder, while the other received 40 grams of a placebo. Both powders were split into two 20-gram packages, which the participants were made to consume twice daily.

Aside from making the participants consume the powders, the research team also subjected the participants to a battery of tests – including blood draws and pain and gait assessments – throughout the trial.

The researchers found that the participants who consumed the blueberry powder exhibited significant reductions in areas such as pain and stiffness, as well as improvements in their ability to perform daily activities. These improvements, however, were not observed in the placebo group.

This, the researchers said, meant that the daily incorporation of whole blueberries in one’s diet may help reduce the pain and stiffness experienced by individuals with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are natural compounds that are found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, as well as plant derivatives such as dark chocolate and wine.

These compounds can act as antioxidants, which means that they can help neutralize the harmful cellular damage caused by free radicals in the environment.

According to experts, there are more than 8,000 types of polyphenols, most of which can be further categorized into 4 main groups:

  • Flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, catechins and anthocyanins account for around 60 percent of all polyphenols. These are often found in foods like apples, onions, dark chocolate and red cabbages.
  • Phenolic acids such as stilbenes and lignans, on the other hand. account for around 30 percent of all polyphenols. As noted by experts, these are mostly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds.
  • Polyphenolic amides, meanwhile, include the capsaicinoids in chili peppers and the avenanthramides in oats.
  • Other polyphenols include compounds such as resveratrol, which is found in red wine; ellagic acid which can be extracted from berries; curcumin, which gives turmeric its potency; and lignans which are responsible for the health-giving properties of flax seeds, sesame seeds and whole grains.

What are the other benefits that one can get from blueberries?

Aside from helping manage osteoarthritis, the polyphenols from blueberries have also been linked to the following health benefits:

  • Prevent the development of cardiovascular disease
  • Lower high blood pressure and prevent the hardening of the arteries
  • Support the body’s immune function
  • Prevent the development of diabetes
  • Prevent the development of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Prevent the development of certain types of cancer
  • Prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the environment
  • Prevent the development of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Help improve cognitive function and prevent memory impairment and loss of focus
  • Help individuals recover from fatigue and physical exhaustion
  • Help promote optimal vision and eye health
  • Help prevent obesity

Aside from polyphenols, what other nutrients are present in blueberries?

Aside from polyphenols, blueberries also contain high amounts of fiber and vitamins C and K, as well as the essential mineral manganese.

In addition, blueberries also contain calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, folate, copper, beta-carotene, folate, choline and vitamins A and E.

How does one add more polyphenol-rich blueberries to his diet?

Blueberries are available in fresh, frozen, dried and freeze-dried forms. This makes the fruits incredibly easy to add to one’s diet. Blueberries are also available as jams and jellies, although care must be taken to ensure that what you’re getting is free from added sugars and unnecessary artificial preservatives and fillers.

Here are some ways that you can add health-boosting blueberries into your meals:

  • Want to add a burst of flavor and nutrition to your breakfast? Use blueberries as toppings for your oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, or cereal!
  • Had a long day at the gym? Cool off and recharge by blending organic blueberries with some ice and a banana!
  • If you’re in the mood for a fresh and light lunch, why not try mixing fresh or dried blueberries into a salad?
  • Add a jolt of healthy sweetness into your favorite whole-grain muffins and baked goods by folding in some blueberries into your batter.

Still want to boost your blueberry fix? Here’s a quick breakfast bowl recipe that you can try:

RECIPE: Blueberry Breakfast Bowl

When it comes to adding fresh fruits such as blueberries into one’s diet, nothing’s easier than chucking a couple of handfuls into a blender and blitzing them up into a filling and satisfying smoothie bowl, such as this one.



  • 2 small-medium bananas
  • 2 cups milk OR vegan alternative
  • 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 1/4 cup organic whole oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax-seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • Organic manuka honey OR vegan sweetener, to taste


  • Dried organic blueberries
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Organic granola
  • Dried organic strawberries
  • Organic hemp seeds


  1. Place all ingredients, except toppings into a kitchen blender or food processor and blend until thick.
  2. Taste and adjust sweetness and flavor, to taste.
  3. Divide equally into two bowls and sprinkle toppings, as desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Despite their potency when it comes to supporting one’s overall health, however, blueberries and other polyphenol-rich foods must not be treated as if they are cure-alls that can vanquish your health problems in the blink of an eye.

Instead, one must make it a point to treat them and other functional foods and superfoods as natural supplements and as additional factors in one’s journey toward good overall health.

Overflowing with health-supporting vitamins, nutrients and minerals, polyphenol-rich blueberries are valuable additions to any pantry.


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