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Are Blueberries Bad for a Diet?

By Sandi Busch

Whether you’re on a weight-loss diet or following a maintenance plan, blueberries are packed with benefits that support a healthy diet and can help you lose weight. They’re fat-free, nutrient-rich and a 1-cup serving has fewer calories than some other favorite fruits. However, there is one caveat: Stay away from sweetened blueberries.

Eat More, Gain Less

One cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories, which is less than one large apple, a medium pear, a banana or a cup of cherries. Blueberries also support a diet because they're a low-energy-dense food. Energy density measures the calories per gram of food. The benefit of choosing low-energy-dense foods is that it's easier to stick with a diet because you can eat a larger portion yet still reduce calories. The high amount of water and fiber in blueberries is responsible for their low-energy density.

Feel Full Longer

Fiber is an essential nutrient for your cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health, and it also supports weight loss. In your stomach, fiber absorbs moisture, increases the volume of food and makes you feel full. It also slows down gastric emptying, which means food stays in your stomach longer, so you feel full longer. One cup of fresh blueberries has about 4 grams of fiber, or 14 percent of women’s and 9 percent of men’s recommended daily intake.

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Gain Energy and Nutrients

Restricting calories sometimes results in lack of nutrients and feeling sluggish. Blueberries won’t let you down in either aspect. Each cup of fresh berries has 21 grams of total carbs, primarily in the form of natural sugar. This sugar gives you a boost of energy without spiking blood sugar because the soluble fiber moderates the flow of sugar into your bloodstream. The same portion contains at least 16 percent of your recommended daily allowance of antioxidant vitamin C and at least 24 percent of your daily intake of vitamin K. You’ll also get 4 to 8 percent of the B vitamins your body needs to metabolize carbs into energy.

Potential Extra Benefits

Research suggests that plant-based substances in blueberries called flavonoids, or polyphenols, may support weight loss. Just keep in mind that the research was conducted on lab mice and further studies are needed to verify the potential in people. Researchers at Texas Women’s University published their study in the May 2012 issue of the “Journal of Medicinal Food.” Their results state that polyphenols in blueberries may inhibit the development of fat cells.

Avoid Added Sugar

Blueberries are not as good for a diet when you buy them sweetened or add sugar to fresh berries at home. Frozen sweetened blueberries and blueberries canned in light syrup contain almost three times more sugar than fresh blueberries. Excess sugar is quickly stored as fat if it's not burned for energy. Added sugar also has a big impact on calories. Both types of blueberries have about 200 calories in a 1-cup serving.

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