Do Blueberries Really Improve Night Vision?
The blueberry is already hailed as a superfood that packs more of a nutritional punch than many other foods. That’s largely because of the high phytonutrient content of these dusky blue berries. They contain potent antioxidant pigment compounds, called anthocyanins, which have been credited with many of blueberries’ most impressive health benefits. Blueberries are believed to benefit the cardiovascular system, improve memory, and enhance digestive function, among other things. They taste pretty good, too.
Some people have also claimed that blueberries can improve one’s night vision. But according to American Chemical Society researchers, that may be stretching the truth a little too far. Some old, poorly designed research had led people to suggest that blueberries might also improve night vision. But the evidence does not stand up to the harsh light of day.
While blueberries do not appear to improve night vision overall, carefully controlled studies indicated that they may help you recover your night vision faster after you’ve been temporarily “blinded” by bright light, before plunging back into relative darkness.
So what are the real-world benefits of blueberry consumption in terms of vision? A person who eats blueberries regularly might expect to recover her night vision more rapidly while driving a car, after suddenly being exposed to another driver’s high beams, than a driver who does not eat blueberries, for example. While she might recover her night vision more rapidly, the new research suggests that her night vision would not necessarily be sharper once adapted to the dark, however.
Nevertheless, blueberries remain near the top of the “superfoods” list. They don’t show any signs of being deposed from that lofty spot any time soon. They’re still rich in highly beneficial anthocyanins. Just don’t expect them to give you X-ray vision.
Wilhelmina Kalt, Jane E. McDonald, Sherry A. E. Fillmore, Francois Tremblay. Blueberry Effects on Dark Vision and Recovery after Photobleaching: Placebo-Controlled Crossover Studies. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014; 62 (46): 11180 DOI: 10.1021/jf503689c