AS we head towards summer, we move into berry season. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries: all can be classed as ‘superfoods’ thanks to their high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants – plant pigments with anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects.

Blueberries have a particular reputation as a superfood and a new study published earlier this year found that eating 200g of blueberries everyday for a month can reduce blood pressure.

Researchers from Kings College London recruited 40 volunteers who were given either the blueberries or a control drink each day. The research team monitored participants' blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular health.

Over the course of the study, systolic blood pressure fell in the blueberry group, and positive changes to blood vessel health were documented too.

The reduction in blood pressure was shown to be similar to that seen in studies using blood pressure-lowering medication.

Commenting on the results, the lead researcher noted that if these changes in blood vessel function could be sustained over a lifetime, it could reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20 per cent.

The benefits of blueberries go beyond heart health. Antioxidant compounds in these and other dark berries can help protect the tiny delicate blood vessels in the eyes and brain, supporting blood flow and cell health in these vital organs. This is partly where the idea of eating blueberries to help see in the dark comes from!

Maintaining healthy vision is especially important for diabetics who are prone to diabetic retinopathy, a condition involving damage to the retina at the back of the eye. High amounts of sugar flowing around the bloodstream can easily damage the fragile blood vessels in the retina and eventually lead to sight loss. The plant pigments in berries (blueberries in particular) have a long history of use for supporting healthy vision by protecting these veins and capillaries from damage.

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, good for our hearts, brains, eyes, skin, immunity and circulation: berries are true superfoods. Easy to carry in a small tub, they’re perfect for snacks, or adding to smoothies, porridge, salads, or served with a little fresh cream. Just remember, if you’re growing your own, protect the plants from scavenging birds who enjoy them just as much as we do!

Sally Duffin is a Registered Nutritionist (MBANT). Find her online at or join the Facebook group ‘Nutrition in York’.