How can blueberries help with inflammation?

  • Blueberries contain polyphenols, micronutrients that occur in some fruits and vegetables
  • Plant polyphenols possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Blueberries can, therefore, assist with the treatment of inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease  


Blueberries have become a trending superfood over the past decade, and rightfully so.

These small berries contain bioactive compounds (substances that promote good health), and researchers are finding ways in which these ingredients can help sufferers of inflammatory diseases. The special ingredients contained in blueberries are known as polyphenols.

Polyphenols are micronutrients we obtain through certain fruits and vegetables. “Plant polyphenols possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties,” according to researchers. Resveratrol (RSV) is a polyphenol found in grapes. Extensive study has been done on RSV, expressing how it can normalise the immune system and reduce inflammation.

A recent study published in the FASEB Journal reveals that the polyphenolic compounds in blueberries can be absorbed better than RSV and assist with the treatment of inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

About the study

The initial aim of the study was to test the effects of a range of plant-derived compounds on the immune system. After studying the effects functional foods have on the body for many years, a group of researchers from the Tokyo University of Science identified a polyphenolic compound called “pterostilbene” (PSB).

PSB is a molecule found in blueberries that is rich in antioxidants and has immunosuppressive functions. The researchers found that PSB is very similar to RSV and tested the effects that both have on the human body.

Results of the study

According to the researchers, PSB has a higher bioavailability than RSV, which means that PSB can be better absorbed and utilised by the body. Corresponding author of the study, Dr Yashiro, stated: “Our findings show that PSB possesses a strong immunosuppressive property, paving the way for a new, natural treatment for IBD.”

PSB also has higher immunosuppressive properties than RSV. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, PSB could be a treatment option not only for sufferers of IBD, but also for other inflammatory conditions – and blueberries are known to be a good source of this polyphenolic compound.

Image credit: Unsplash

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