Initially, blueberries earned the name of superfruit due to being a rich source of anthocyanins—an effective antioxidant. Anthocyanins are also responsible for the color of blueberries—dark red, blue and purple pigments.
However, the term superfruit can be misleading in the nutritional world—high antioxidant levels do not guarantee high effectiveness, as was allegedly the case for blueberries. Nonetheless, numerous studies have now confirmed vascular, neurological, immune and glycemic health benefits, just after one dose of blueberries. To achieve these health outcomes, we recommend consuming either fresh, frozen or freeze-dried wild blueberries.
Blueberry Extract—What Is It? How Can You Use Blueberry Extract?
Blueberry extract is made from blueberry juice concentrate. Blueberry extract is nutrient-rich, containing antioxidants and compounds that are possibly helpful for inflammation, heart disease, and cancer.
Blueberry extract is distinct from blueberry juice, blueberry powder, and whole fruit blueberries; in essence, it’s a concentrated juice from blueberries. Blueberry extract is sold in pill/ capsule form—see our recommendations below for what to buy. In general, though, when you’re looking for blueberry extract, look for blueberry extract pills that are made from the fruit of wild blueberries, as they tend to contain more antioxidants.
Also be aware that blueberry extract is not the same as blueberry leaf extract. These two supplements do share some of the same health benefits, but definitely not all. This is made even more confusing by the fact that both types of supplements tend to show up on searches for both blueberry extract and blueberry leaf extract. Just read the product label closely to determine of the extract is from the fruit or the leaf.
If Possible, Buy Wild Blueberry Extract
Studies have found that blueberry extract sourced from wild, organic blueberries potentially contains higher antioxidant levels than blueberry extract sourced from cultivated, highbush blueberries.
When you’re looking for a blueberry extract supplement, check the product label to see if it’s made from organic, wild blueberries or from conventionally grown highbush blueberries.
Blueberry Powder—What Is It?
Blueberry powder is a nutrient-packed powder made from freeze-dried blueberries. The freeze-drying process is highly efficient and preserves all the antioxidants and other nutrients of fresh berries.
In contrast, blueberry extract is made from concentrated blueberry juice, and the processing removes most of the fiber you can find in fresh berries. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, one study examining the effects of blueberry powder and blueberry extract dosages found more significant benefits of blueberry extract on cardiovascular health and episodic memory performance. One possible explanation is that health-stimulating polyphenols are bound to insoluble fibers found in blueberry powder, lowering their bioavailability.
Although whole blueberries are always the best choice, these powders and extracts seem to be a perfect alternative when fresh blueberries are not available. Plus, the blueberry powder has a shelf life of one year, making it convenient for storage and transportation.
You can add a scoop of blueberry powder to your morning smoothie, oatmeal, pancake batch, milk, juice, or water, and enjoy some extra nutrients with your breakfast.
Is Organic Blueberry Powder Better?
Many health gurus like to recommend organic blueberry powders claiming they have superior properties. Their claim comes from the fact that some studies found that organic blueberries have higher levels of fructose, glucose, anthocyanins, total phenols, and overall antioxidant activity. That should result in higher antioxidant levels in organic blueberry powders, making them the number one choice.However, it’s important to mention that other studies found very slight differences or even a more favorable phytochemical content of conventionally-grown blueberries. Other things like processing and storage may play a more important role, so buying organic is not always necessary.
The Benefits Of Blueberries, Blueberry Extract, And Blueberry Powder
Wild blueberry extract offers numerous benefits, primarily due to anthocyanins—an anti-inflammatory compound. Promising evidence has recently arisen from animal and clinical models which demonstrate anthocyanins at work in the body. In rodents, anthocyanin reduces retinal inflammation caused by rhodopsin disease and preserves vision, suggesting neuroprotective benefits. In humans, anthocyanin has been successful in treating inflammatory disorders including periodontitis and inflammatory parameters associated with hypercholesterolemia.
The benefits don’t stop there. Flavonoids (a class of polyphenols) found in wild blueberry extract offer cardiovascular protection by improving endothelial function in blood vessels. Polyphenols also influence carbohydrate digestion—postprandial (post-meal) glycemic response was greatly reduced following a single dose of blueberry extract in middle-aged adults, demonstrating its potential for treating insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics.
Polyphenols are mainly considered as antioxidants which scientists have translated into anti-proliferative effects to fight aggressive breast cancer cells. Even more remarkably, these antioxidative properties have been shown to prolong lifespan in fruit flies.
Blueberry polyphenols also have antibacterial properties as they chelate iron and destroy bacterial biofilms (bacterial communities). This has been demonstrated to kill infectious bacteria in periodontitis.
Finally, researchers have found that wild blueberry extract has nootropic effects, both in the short-term and long-term. In young children, episodic memory improved, and in middle-aged adults, fast-paced decision-making and overall cognitive performance improved—both after just one or two doses of extract. In the long-term, episodic memory was greatly improved in older adults after 3 months of taking wild blueberry extract—suggesting possible protection against neurodegeneration.
How To Use Blueberries, Blueberry Powder, And Blueberry Extract To Improve Your Health
Studies have found found much higher levels of antioxidant activity in wild (lowbush) blueberries than in farm-raised (highbush) blueberries. This was especially the case in fresher fruits—interestingly, no correlation was found between fruit size and anthocyanin content. When looking at blueberry products, you may notice the product stating lowbush blueberries or Vaccinium angustifolium rather than wild blueberries, this is simply the species name.
Another factor which greatly influences blueberry nutrient content is the extraction method. For example, methods using acidified aqueous methanol extract a high percentage of anthocyanins and phenolic contents. Freezing and freeze-drying are also quite effective at preserving blueberries’ key beneficial properties. In contrast, thermo-drying blueberries reduces anthocyanin and antioxidant capacity by 40-50%.
In general, fresh blueberries are sufficient for your necessary nutrient intake if you prefer fresh over wild blueberry extract – freezing them is fine too. To support local farmers, buying from local farmer’s markets is recommended—organic is not necessary though.
Aside from fresh blueberries, you can consume blueberries in other forms and still reap their rewards. Blueberry powders are great for incorporating in your favorite shakes and smoothies. It is important however that you check that the powders originate from the wild lowbush blueberry cultivar. Sometimes companies try to pass off their product as the wild cultivar, yet the actual species they use is the highbush (V. corymbosum) variety.
Companies also sell blueberry extract in capsule form, however the quantity found in blueberries is hard to match and capsules are consequently severely underdosed – much like reishi mushrooms.
The Best Blueberries, Blueberry Powder, And Blueberry Extract Supplements
Best Blueberry Extract
The Sports Research Whole Fruit Blueberry Concentrate is made from organic US-grown blueberries. Each bottle contains 60 capsules wholly manufactured and packaged in the US.
This supplement is made with organic ingredients with no GMOs. It is soy and gluten-free with no artificial colorings, fillers, or additives. The company follows strict cGMP standards to ensure safety and quality, making this organic blueberry concentrate a great option to boost your daily antioxidant intake.
Another great blueberry extract option
Life Extension Blueberry Extract is a vegetarian dietary supplement that comes in the form of capsules. This blueberry extract is made from anthocyanin-rich Alaskan blueberries, known for their high antioxidant content.
Life Extension has over 40 years of research behind their formulations, making them one of the better dietary supplement options. Plus, they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can always get your money back if you are not satisfied with the product.
Best Frozen Wild Blueberries
Wyman’s fresh frozen blueberries are sustainably harvested from wild lowbush cultivars and are highly regarded in the world of frozen fruit. Each bag contains 3 pounds of blueberries with 2x antioxidant activity – due to the use of wild cultivars. Reviewers even state that they prefer these frozen berries over fresh berries due to their great size and taste.
Best Organic Frozen Wild Blueberries
Vital Choice’s frozen wild blueberries are each individually frozen to retain a sweeter taste. They promise their product has no added sugar. Further, Vital Choice’s wild blueberries are certified kosher, gluten-free and 100% organic by Oregon Tilth Inc. – the leading certifier of organic food produce, demonstrating a pure, sustainable product.
The Best Wild Blueberry Powders
Due to the versatility of blueberry powder– it can be used in smoothies, baking, lemonade or protein shakes– we expect many people will prefer powdered blueberries. Thus, we’ve elected to recommend three of them.
Wild Blueberry Powder
My Berry is a small women-owned company who are keen to demonstrate that they know how to make a great product. My Berry powder is a deep purple color – a key sign that genuine wild blueberries are used. Their blueberries are freeze-dried rather than heat-dried to limit the loss of anthocyanins and polyphenols, and no pesticides were used in wild blueberry cultivation. Each teaspoon of wild blueberry powder is equivalent to 1/2 cup of whole blueberries – 2 teaspoons will help you realize the intended health benefits when combined in your favorite recipes.
Wild Blueberry Powder
Source Nature guarantees a 100% pure and natural product. Each bag contains 100g of wild blueberry powder – equivalent to 1kg of fresh wild blueberries. Their blueberries are extracted via their unique window drying technology, which they claim preserves 94% of the fresh blueberry.
In addition, their product contains 22 essential amino acids to aid in meeting protein requirements. No sugar, preservatives and additives are added and their product is gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO. 2 teaspoons of the powder is the recommended serving size. On Amazon, their product is labelled Amazon’s choice and has received 4.6/5 stars in reviews due to easy integration into smoothies, shakes and baking – a solid indicator of a sound product.
Wild Blueberry Powder
Z Natural Foods have a wild organic blueberry powder stemming from lowbush blueberries. The blueberries are freeze-dried – an effective method at retaining high nutritional value. Each bag contains 54 servings at 1 tablespoon per serving. This blueberry powder is certified as USDA organic, gluten-free, wild-harvested, chemical-free and non-GMO.
At $49.99 for so many servings, this is a well-priced product. However, compared to the other blueberry powders, their website currently shows no reviews. Despite this, their methodology and knowledge is well-researched, which is reflected in their product.
Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this review. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.