Huckleberries are small berries overflowing with nutrients and are closely related to blueberries. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, hence being a superfood with countless health benefits. It’s perfect to know about the health benefits of huckleberries as it helps you make better decisions about your diet and lifestyle. The purpose of this post is to review the health benefits of huckleberries and provide everything else you need to know about these delicious berries.
What is a Huckleberry?
Huckleberries are small blueberries similar to regular blueberries and bilberries – a lesser-known kind of wild berry. They typically grow on shrubs that belong to the Ericaceae plant family. Huckleberries can thrive in diverse climates/regions such as the eastern half of North America, Montana, the Andes Mountains, and southeastern Brazil. Some Huckleberry leaves can produce resin which is a viscous material that protects the leaves, while others can be waxy or hairy.
The most typically grown and consumed genera of Huckleberries are Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. Their primary difference lies in their flowers. Vaccinium flowers have five chambers, while Gaylussacia flowers have ten. Both flowers grow in clusters and can be greenish, red, white, or pink. This makes them nearly identical.
Nutritional Values of Huckleberry
Although Huckleberries are small, they are so nutritious and full of different healthy nutrients such as Calcium, Solasodin, Samak, saponin, Antropin, Diosgenin, and Titogenun. These substances have multiple health benefits. That’s why Huckleberry is a popular choice among vegetable lovers.
In general, 100 grams of Huckleberries contains these nutrients listed in the table below:
|Raw Huckleberries Nutrition Facts and Analysis (100 g)|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||0.010 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.030 mg|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||0.300 mg|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||2.8 mg|
|Net carbs||8.70 g|
|Fats and Fatty Acids|
|Proteins and Aminoacids|
Health Benefits of Huckleberries
Native Americans traditionally used to collect Huckleberries. Not only could these berries be consumed as food but people also took advantage of their uses in traditional medicine to treat inflammation, pain, heart ailments, and infections.
Here are many health benefits of Huckleberries:
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Huckleberries are overflowing with antioxidants that protect the body from being damaged by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can harm cells and develop chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage.
2. Reduces Cholesterol
Different studies show that Huckleberries may lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Drinking Huckleberry juice can reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels considerably in overweight/obese adults. That’s probably because of the high concentration of anthocyanins in Huckleberries that has cholesterol-lowering properties.
3. Improves Cognitive Function
Huckleberries are full of compounds that can enhance cognitive function and memory. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that consuming Huckleberry extract can enhance cognitive function in older adults; the authors studied old participants who consumed Huckleberry extract every day for 12 weeks. They concluded that the extract enhanced cognitive function, especially in the areas of attention and memory.
4. Regulates Blood Sugar
Huckleberries have possible benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that Huckleberries have bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols; these compounds can enhance insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in animal studies. Huckleberry extracts may decrease blood glucose levels and enhance insulin sensitivity in humans too.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Huckleberries have many compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Although inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, chronic inflammation can lead to chronic diseases. Studies have shown that Huckleberry extract may lower inflammation in the human body.
6. Prevents Cancer
Huckleberries can prevent cancer. Studies show that Huckleberry extract hinders the growth of cancer cells in vitro. What’s more, Huckleberry extract may substantially reduce markers of oxidative stress in women with breast cancer.
7. Improves Digestive Health
Huckleberries may enhance digestive health too. They are a good source of dietary fiber that can boost regularity and prevent constipation. Huckleberries also have compounds that may protect the lining of the digestive tract and reduce inflammation, as mentioned earlier.
8. Boosts Immune System Function
Huckleberries can boost immune system function. Studies show that consuming Huckleberry extract can increase the activity of natural killer cells. These cells are a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections and cancer.
9. Improves Eye Health
Huckleberries may improve eye health too as they are a rich source of vitamin C which is essential for the health of the eyes. Vitamin C protects the eyes from damage caused by free radicals and prevents the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
10. Promotes Weight Loss
Huckleberries can also facilitate weight loss as they are a low-calorie food rich in dietary fiber, generating feelings of fullness and reduced calorie intake. Huckleberries are also good sources of various vitamins and minerals which can support overall health and well-being.
Risks and Side Effects
Huckleberries are generally safe for most people. However, they may cause side effects or have risks in some cases. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Allergies: People allergic to blueberries, bilberries, or cranberries may also be allergic to Huckleberries. You may experience symptoms such as hives, itching, or difficulty breathing after eating Huckleberries.
- Interactions with Medications: Huckleberries might interact with certain medications such as blood thinners and diabetes drugs.
- Digestive Issues: Eating too many Huckleberries may cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Consider drinking plenty of water with Huckleberries to avoid such issues.
Huckleberries have various healthy nutrients and myriad health benefits such as improving cognitive function, regulating blood sugar levels, and boosting the immune system. They are also full of antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage, reduce inflammation, and help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Additionally, Huckleberries can enhance digestive health and ease the weight loss process. However, like any other food, Huckleberries may come with side effects or risks in some people and you may need to consult a doctor in case of issues.