Today, we’re starting a new series on our blogs to dig deeper into the healthybud formulations and look closely at some of our most important and unique ingredients: superfoods! These powerful foods are one of the ways that healthybud is redefining the pet pantry, so we’re excited to teach you about our favourite ingredients!
This week, we’re shining the light on one of our small but mighty superfoods: blueberries! But let’s start at the beginning...what exactly are superfoods?!
Superfoods are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and have many different healing properties as well. You may be more familiar with this term as it relates to humans, but we’re here to share that superfoods are just as important for your dog too! Keep reading to find out why.
Blueberries, In Summary:
Blueberries are a powerful ingredient readily available (either fresh or frozen) year round. These small berries pack a punch and are ideal for cardiovascular and immune health, and controlling inflammation. They are a rare find amongst fruit in that they are low in sugar and low in calories. This makes them a great snack on their own or as part of a more complex treat. This is one of the reasons why you’ll find blueberries listed in healthybud’s full food and booster lines. As a general rule, 1 blueberry per every 2 pounds of your dog’s weight is a safe amount to feed.
This berry is full of many vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, choline, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. They are particularly high in vitamin C, which is known to be a great support for healthy skin, a healthy heart and a strong immune system.
Blueberries are known to be full of antioxidants! We’re going to dig into the science behind antioxidants, so channel Bill Nye and bear with us for a second here:
A common cause of cellular damage and aging is oxidation. Free radicals are a byproduct of metabolization, as well as various pollutants and toxins. Free radicals build up over time in your dog’s organs and cells, and lead to deterioration. Free radicals take electrons from a nearby molecule in a process called oxidation. This oxidized molecule will become a free radical if it doesn’t replace the “stolen” electron, which can lead to a ripple effect of free radicals. This oxidation process can lead to disease in our dogs if left unchecked.
So how does this tie into antioxidants? Well, like the name suggests, antioxidants are molecules that can help stop the oxidation process. These are only found in plant sources, and blueberries are a great one! Although berries in general are a good source of antioxidants, a study done in Italy compared a group of dogs being fed blueberries and another group being fed other berries. The blueberry group had significantly lower oxidative stress markers than the group fed the other berries. Anthocyanins, which give blueberries their hue, are a large source of antioxidants.
But that’s not all blueberries do! There has been some evidence that they lower the risk of some cancers, limit weight gain, manage urinary tract infections, and improve gut health. Anthocyanins don’t only provide antioxidant benefits but also assist with controlling inflammation. Since blueberries are a high source of fibre as well, they have been proven to improve gut health as well. There’s also evidence to show that the antioxidant benefits can assist dogs in recovering after exertion - so don’t hesitate to treat your pup to a snack post walk or run! The list doesn’t stop there - blueberries also reduce arterial stiffness, leading to better cardiovascular health, and assist in good eye and even bone health!
There’s one other amazing way blueberries can help our pup’s health. Not only do the antioxidants slow aging by neutralizing free radicals, one special antioxidant is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Polyphenols and anthocyanins help to support brain health and prevent memory loss. You may have picked up on how important anthocyanins are since we’ve mentioned them so many times - blueberries have the highest level of anthocyanins than any other food.
Now you know why blueberries have achieved superfood status, but did you know that their powerful health benefits weren’t discovered until 1996 by Tufts scientist James Joseph? During his study, it scored higher for its antioxidant properties than any other fruit, even açai!
If you are looking to introduce blueberry into your dog’s diet so they can benefit from all of its amazing properties, here’s a list of healthybud products you can find this powerhouse fruit in (all locally sourced in Canada):
Happy snacking, #healthygang!