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7 Delicious Blue Fruits with Powerful Health Benefits

Health + Wellness
Healthline

By Makayla Meixner

Blue fruits get their vibrant color from beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.


In particular, they're high in anthocyanins, which is a group of polyphenols that give off blue hues (1Trusted Source).

However, these compounds provide more than just color.

Research suggests that diets high in anthocyanins may promote heart health and reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other diseases (2Trusted Source).

Here are 7 delicious blue fruits with powerful health benefits.

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are tasty and packed with nutrients.

They're low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with essential micronutrients, such as manganese and vitamins C and K (3).

These delicious berries are also high in anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants that help defend your cells against harm from unstable molecules called free radicals (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

According to one study in 10 healthy men, the antioxidants provided in about 2 cups (300 grams) of blueberries may immediately protect your DNA against free radical damage (7Trusted Source).

Additionally, research indicates that diets high in anthocyanins from blueberries and other fruits and vegetables may help prevent chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and brain conditions like Alzheimer's (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Summary

Blueberries are rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants, which play a role in preventing cell damage and may reduce chronic disease risk.

2. Blackberries

Blackberries are sweet and nutritious dark-blue berries that offer several health benefits.

A single cup (144 grams) of blackberries packs nearly 8 grams of fiber, 40% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 34% of the DV for vitamin C (11).

The same serving also provides 24% of the DV for vitamin K, making blackberries one of the richest fruit sources of this essential nutrient (11).

Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and plays an important role in bone health (12Trusted Source).

Though the relationship between vitamin K and bone health is still being researched, scientists believe that a lack of vitamin K may contribute to osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become weak and fragile (13Trusted Source).

While leafy green vegetables are highest in vitamin K, a select few fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries, and prunes, also contain ample amounts to help you meet your daily needs (3, 11, 14Trusted Source, 15).

Summary

Blackberries are loaded with fiber, manganese, and vitamin C. They're also one of the few fruits that are high in vitamin K, which plays an essential role in blood clotting and bone health.

3. Elderberries

Elderberry is one of the most popular plant remedies worldwide (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

This blue-purple fruit may help defend against the cold and flu by boosting your immune system. It's also been shown to help people recover from these illnesses faster (18Trusted Source).

Research suggests that the beneficial plant compounds in elderberries may activate healthy immune cells that help fight off cold and flu viruses (19Trusted Source).

What's more, test-tube studies indicate that concentrated elderberry extracts may fight the flu virus and prevent it from infecting cells, though this is still under investigation (20, 21Trusted Source).

In one 5-day study, taking 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of a concentrated elderberry syrup daily helped people with the flu recover an average of 4 days quicker than those who did not take the supplement (22Trusted Source).

These berries are also high in vitamins C and B6, two nutrients known to promote a healthy immune system. Just 1 cup (145 grams) of elderberries provides 58% and 20% of the DVs for vitamins C and B6, respectively (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25).

Keep in mind that it may be best to eat these berries cooked. Raw elderberries may cause an upset stomach, particularly if eaten unripe (26).

Summary

Elderberries are a nutritious purple-blue berry popularly used as a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms.

4. Concord Grapes

Concord grapes are a healthy, purple-blue fruit that can be eaten fresh or used to make wine, juices, and jams.

They're packed with beneficial plant compounds that function as antioxidants. In fact, Concord grapes are higher in these compounds than purple, green, or red grapes (27Trusted Source).

Though more research is needed, some studies show that Concord grapes and their juice may boost your immune system (28Trusted Source).

For example, one 9-week study that had people drink 1.5 cups (360 ml) of Concord grape juice daily observed increases in beneficial immune cell counts and blood antioxidant levels, compared with a placebo group (29Trusted Source).

Additionally, several smaller studies suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily may boost memory, mood, and brain health (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).

Summary

Purple-blue Concord grapes may boost immunity, mood, and brain health, though more studies are needed to confirm this.

5. Black Currants

Black currants are very tart berries with a deep, bluish-purple hue.

They can be eaten fresh, dried, or in jams and juices. You may also find them in dietary supplements.

Black currants are especially high in vitamin C, which is a well-known and potent antioxidant.

A single cup (112 grams) of fresh blackcurrant supplies more than two times the DV for this vitamin (34).

As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect against cellular damage and chronic disease. In fact, some population studies note that diets rich in this nutrient may offer significant protection against heart disease (35Trusted Source).

Additionally, vitamin C plays a key role in wound healing, your immune system, and the maintenance of your skin, bones, and teeth (23Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

Summary

Blackcurrants are packed with vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that plays a vital role in your immune system and helps maintain healthy skin, bones, and teeth.

6. Damson Plums

Damsons are blue plums that are often processed into jams and jellies. They can also be dried to make prunes (38).

Prunes are a popular choice for digestive problems, including constipation, which is an ailment that affects an estimated 14% of the global population (39Trusted Source).

They're high in fiber, with 1/2 cup (82 grams) packing an impressive 6 grams of this nutrient (15).

As a result, eating more prunes may increase stool frequency and soften your stools, making your bowel movements easier to pass (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).

Plums also contain certain plant compounds and a type of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which may help loosen your stools and promote more frequent bowel movements as well (42Trusted Source).

Summary

Prunes made from damson plums supply fiber, beneficial plant compounds, and the sugar sorbitol — all of which may help relieve constipation.

7. Blue Tomatoes

Blue tomatoes, also known as purple or Indigo Rose tomatoes, are grown to be high in anthocyanins (43Trusted Source).

Their high anthocyanin content gives off a purple-blue tint (44Trusted Source).

Several studies suggest that diets high in anthocyanin-rich foods may reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, and promote eye and brain health (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source).

What's more, blue tomatoes pack various other powerful antioxidant compounds typically found in regular tomatoes, such as lycopene (51Trusted Source).

Observational studies link lycopene-rich diets to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and prostate cancer (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source).

Summary

Blue tomatoes are grown to be rich in anthocyanins while retaining high amounts of other beneficial plant compounds that have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and prostate cancer.

The Bottom Line

Aside from their delicious taste, blue fruits offer a wide array of health benefits.

They're nutrient-dense sources of powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds called anthocyanins.

Due to their high antioxidant content, these fruits may reduce inflammation and stave off chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (45Trusted Source).

To boost your health, eating a variety of blue fruits regularly may be worthwhile.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Niq Steele / Getty Images

By Sherry H-Y. Chou, Aarti Sarwal and Neha S. Dangayach

The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

When a neurologist examined him, Tom was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal sensation and weakness due to delays in sending signals through the nerves. Usually reversible, in severe cases it can cause prolonged paralysis involving breathing muscles, require ventilator support and sometimes leave permanent neurological deficits. Early recognition by expert neurologists is key to proper treatment.

We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

Some patients may not seek timely medical care for neurological symptoms like prolonged headache, vision loss and new muscle weakness due to fear of getting exposed to virus in the emergency setting. People need to know that medical facilities have taken full precautions to protect patients. Seeking timely medical evaluation for neurological symptoms can help treat many of these diseases.

What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

The first reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in COVID-19 pandemic originated from Italy, Spain and China, where the pandemic surged before the U.S. crisis.

Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

It is certainly possible that there are other cases that have not been reported. The Global Consortium Study of Neurological Dysfunctions in COVID-19 is actively underway to find out how often neurological problems like Guillain-Barre Syndrome is seen in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Also, just because Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs in a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, that does not imply that it was caused by the virus; this still may be a coincident occurrence. More research is needed to understand how the two events are related.

Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.