Do Blueberries Make You Poop? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say
Beans, coffee and blueberries: What do these three have in common? Answer: They can all help you poop. Blueberries can definitely play a role in getting things moving and making you go, which may not be all that surprising since fruits are a good source of fiber. But blueberries' gut-friendly potential goes beyond fiber, making them one of the best fruits to keep you regular. So if you've ever wondered "Do blueberries make you poop?"—here's how the berries get you to go.
Related: 3-Day Meal Plan to Help You Poop
What Causes Constipation
Almost everyone has been constipated at some time in their life, but 16% of adults experience constipation on a regular basis. And it can get worse as you age: 33% of adults age 60 and up report constipation. Constipation can be caused by lots of things, including certain medications, iron supplements and gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. Sometimes even small changes to your normal diet and routine (hello, travel!) can trigger it.
Occasional, sporadic bouts of constipation usually are caused by not getting enough fiber or drinking enough water and not being active enough. Americans consume an average of 16 grams per day of fiber, significantly below the recommended intake of 22 to 34 grams per day for adults (depending on age/sex) from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If a lack of fiber is the main issue, then upping your intake of produce, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans will help, but adding blueberries may offer a little extra nudge into regularity.
Why Do Blueberries Make You Poop?
Blueberries are often called a superfood due to their combination of nutrients and antioxidant compounds. One cup of blueberries contains:
- 84 calories
- 0.5 g fat
- 1 g protein
- 22 g carbohydrate
- 4 g fiber
- 15 g sugars
- 14 mg vitamin C (16% Daily Value)
As you can see, blueberries have a good amount of fiber and they are also 84% water. (You knew they were juicy!) These things make blueberries a good food to eat when you need to poop.
The majority of the berry's total fiber is insoluble, a type of fiber that helps keep you regular. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, and this stimulates muscle contractions to keep things moving through the GI tract and out of the body. For this to happen, adequate hydration is needed, and the water content in blueberries contributes to this. On top of that, the berry is packed with antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols, which include anthocyanins, quercetin and phenolic acids. Fruits with polyphenols appear to be particularly good at preventing and alleviating constipation. Polyphenol-rich foods like blueberries may even alleviate IBS symptoms, one of which is constipation, according to a 2019 study.
Do Blueberries Make Your Poop Green?
Anything we eat has the potential to change the color of our poop, but this is particularly true with some foods with vibrant color, no matter if it's natural or added. Blueberries' deep purple-blue color comes largely from the pigments in anthocyanins, which get broken down during digestion. Any compounds that can't be absorbed following digestion become part of your poop. According to Cleveland Clinic, poop is usually a shade of brown because of bile, which is required for digestion and has a yellowish-green color. Eating pigmented foods like blueberries may make poop turn darker or turn slightly green, blue or even black if you're eating a large amount.
Related: Healthy Blueberry Recipes
Blueberries are a great food to incorporate into your diet to reap the benefits of antioxidant compounds that research associates with a reduced risk for many chronic diseases, as well as insoluble fiber for gut health. While your constipation protocol shouldn't consist of strictly eating blueberries, incorporating the fruit regularly (no pun intended) may help you poop a little easier when combined with other fiber-rich foods, adequate hydration and physical activity.
Carolyn Williams, Ph.D., RD, is author of the new cookbook, Meals That Heal: 100 Everyday Anti-Inflammatory Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less, and a culinary nutrition expert known for her ability to simplify food and nutrition information. She received a 2017 James Beard Journalism award. You can follow her on Instagram @realfoodreallife_rd or on carolynwilliamsrd.com.