Blueberries Minus The Milk

One of the Eight Foods To Eat Every Day is blueberries.  Blueberries also happen to be one of my favorite foods.  I will often add them to whatever smoothie I am having for breakfast.  Or I'll drop a handful into my cereal or oatmeal.  I love blueberry muffins.  And, in the summer, when they're in season and plentiful, Jane makes a killer blueberry pie!

The reason blueberries are so good for you is that they are packed with polyphenols which provide blueberries with antioxidants.  However, according to a new study reported in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the antioxidant power of blueberries is significantly reduced by consuming blueberries with milk.  This has to do with the protein in milk. The study was conducted using people who consumed their blueberries with milk or water.

The blood work of  people who consumed the blueberries with milk did not show an increase in levels of plasma antioxidant capacity.  The conclusion the authors of the study draw is that  the best way to gain maximum benefits from blueberries (and other fruits eaten for their polyphenol content) is to consume them either one hour before protein is consumed, or two hours after.

So while we're not consuming dairy, we usually eat our blueberries with almond milk, also a source of protein.... We'll have to stop doing that if we want to get the full antioxidant benefits of our blueberries.

Source:  Natural News


  1. This is quite interesting, as previous research has found that consuming tea with milk has the same effect, rendering tea significantly less healthy. It seems well possible milk could have the same effect on most antioxidants.

  2. Hi Maija,
    I hadn’t read that about the tea… Do you know if it was it the protein in the milk that caused the tea to be less healthy?
    (Looks like further reading is in my future.)

  3. It was quite widely publicized a few years ago. I looked up the study and apparently it was the casein (the protein in milk which is the most problematic in general) that caused the problem. So those of us using plant-based milks should be “safe” – though it’s certainly not _impossible_ that some plant-based milks (mainly soy) could also impair the absorption of some antioxidant and flavonoids. Soy is, after all, known to contain some “antinutrients” (which impair the absorption of minerals), but they are thought to be mostly eliminated when processing.

    I’m fairly sure this study will inspire future research and the future studies will probably examine whether plant-based milks have any bad effects on nutrient absorption.

  4. Hi Maija,
    Thanks for the update, I hadn’t gotten around to searching for the tea study yet. If it’s the casein, then we’re safe. The article I read simply talked about “protein” in general, so to play it safe, we’re going to make sure we consume more of our blueberries without consuming any protein at that time. But we’re not going to be lunatic about it either.

    I would suspect you’re right about this study inspiring additional research to be done on the topic. And then we’ll find out some other amazing and/or contradictory facts. Sometimes I find it amazing what we still don’t know about basic things like nutrition!

  5. Hi all, we use almond milk (original) with only 1 gram of protein — with frozen organic wild blueberries and walnuts – makes a delicious smoothie.

    My question is: does anyone know if blueberries retain their super powers, if combined with almond milk? It’s not dairy milk, and has very little protein. So, is this a better idea, if we’re looking for ways to get all the benefits of blueberries? thanks.

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