Who does not like blueberries? With all the goodness and health benefits of blueberries, I’m sure most people on this planet does.
Blueberries are one of the several American varieties of berries that have a high health value associated with them.
There are hundreds of ways to consume these very popular berries, and they are excellent to eat even just as they are.
What most people do not know is that this delectable delicacy is also a powerhouse of healthy benefits. Quite an important reason to gorge on these delightful berries on a daily basis then!
Blueberries are delightful foods. Whether young or old, they are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. They have a pretty shape and color and once you lay your eyes on them, you cannot resist nibbling on them.
They have been in use in several traditional recipes—who can forget the delectable bites of blueberry muffins, blueberry shortcakes, and blueberry pies—in the western parts of the world for centuries.
Nevertheless, it is only lately that significant body of research has shown that these berries have a vast amount of health benefits as well. Quite understandably, people have been looking at these berries with a whole new interest.
Most ‘berry’ lists rank blueberries as the second most popular berries in the world, after strawberries. It is the official berry of the Nova Scotia region in Canada.
The blueberry muffin is the official muffin of Minnesota. It has been widely pictured in the media and has been the cynosure of a lot of literature attention as well. Let us take a closer look at these celebrity berries.
Blueberries—What Are They?
This berry, which derives its name due to its color, actually has a very well deserved name. The berry is actually lusciously blue at one stage in its life, though not throughout.
It is pale green when it first appears, then goes through a whole gamut of colors from reddish purple to indigo.
It is indigo blue during the peak of its ripened life, and this is when it is at its tasteful and healthful best as well.
The shape of the blueberry is also unique. It is completely round, with a crown at its open end. This gives it a five-point symmetry. Added to that, the berries grow in clusters.
Since all the berries in a cluster won’t ripen at the same time, you will usually find berries of different colors hanging in the same cluster at any given moment. This adds to their appeal.
Biologically, the blueberry belongs to the genus Vaccinium, which makes it a cousin of bilberries and cranberries, which also belong to the same genus.
Though there are several kinds of blueberries, some even inedible, it is the species that belong to the section Cyanococcus that are the ones that are usually found in the market.
Blueberries are traditional fruits of the western part of the world, most notably North America, along with some countries in Europe and Asia as well.
They have always been used in preparing several items of usual cuisine in these local areas. America especially has had a great cultural association with blueberries and so have countries like England and France in Europe.
Several characteristic recipes of these regions include blueberry in them. North America is the largest producer of blueberries in the world.
Blueberries are blue because of their very high anthocyanin content.
This makes it a good antioxidant, and a capable fighter of the various free radical mechanisms that threaten to slow down the metabolic rate of the body.
Blueberries are especially rich in anthocyanins. They give blueberries their deep blue hue and offer a range of beneficial properties.
For one thing, they’re anti-inflammatory and protect large and small blood vessels from oxidative damage.
This can protect blood vessels from damage caused by high blood-sugar levels in diabetics. This is especially important for the blood vessels in the eyes.
Regular consumption of these berries can have a great effect on improving health. However, just like any other health food, the blueberry cannot do anything by itself.
It needs to be well substantiated by a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle and a good amount of exercise.
Blueberries have several minerals apart from its high antioxidant content.
This makes it a good solution for digestive ill health. Minerals such as sodium and copper make it a berry worth considering for people who suffer from digestive problems.
Also, the berry has a significant amount of fiber content. This makes it a good solution for people who are prone to constipation.
Antioxidants are thought to aid in guarding the body against the detrimental effects of free radicals to cells and the chronic diseases associated with the course of aging.
The antioxidants present in this fruit can protect the cell, so there is less chance for aging. Blueberries contain 14 mg of Vitamin C and 0.8 mg Vitamin E per 1 cup of blueberries.
Blueberries also contain anthocyanins and phenolics that can also act as antioxidants. With this, the effects of blueberries on the skin are copious.
Blueberry is also a treasure-house of all the important vitamins in the body.
They provide a protective function, such as vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E, along with potassium, folate, iron, and manganese.
Due to this, a regular diet of blueberries acts as an immunity shot. People who consume blueberries often are less liable to fall sick often.
Recently, there has been talking about blueberries acting as an anti-aging agent.
This benefit of the blueberry, which is still being medically and scientifically looked into, is because of the fact that the berry has antioxidants that can eliminate destructive free radicals from the body. Another important ingredient that causes this benefit is vitamin C.
Several mental health benefits are also derived from the regular consumption of blueberries.
It improves brain health and a person’s thinking capabilities. It also helps prevent any potential brain disorders.
The berries may also be effective in improving a person’s motor and sensory responses, and building their attention spans, concentration, and general alertness.
And one of the more exciting findings of blueberries is that they can help arrest the mental decline that occurs with Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries are also known for improving visual health.
This is because of the high amount of vitamin A in it in the form of its precursor, beta-carotene.
Even visual defects such as short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hypermetropia) and cataract can be somewhat assayed by the regular consumption of blueberries.
One of the unique benefits of blueberries is the prevention of urinary tract infection.
It does this by eliminating the action of Escherichia coli that cause this infection. An immediate effect of blueberries is in reducing the infection symptoms and inhibition of any proliferation of E. coli.
Blueberries are also considered a potential cure for cancer.
Certain anthocyanins present in it are presumed to have anti-carcinogenic properties. These presumptions are being tested for medical verification.
If found true, blueberries could be an efficient ally in the prevention and treatment of colon and liver cancer.
Researchers have shown that the anthocyanins in blueberries, along with other agents such as proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and tannins, inhibit mechanisms of cancer cell development in vitro.
Blueberries are good for better balance and coordination.
Blueberries also have positive effects on balance and coordination. In a study by Dr. James Joseph of Tufts University, it was found that a diet loaded with blueberries counteracted poor balance and coordination associated with aging.
In this study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Joseph fed four groups of rats a normal diet. But among these groups were given blueberries, spinach, or strawberries.
For 18 weeks, the rats were tested for mental functioning, muscle strength, coordination, and balance.
The two groups which were fed with strawberry and blueberry extracts performed well on these tests, but the group fed with blueberries executed the most improvement.
Not only that, findings also showed that blueberries improved the neuronal functioning of the rats.
Dr. Joseph suspects the findings are a result of blueberries’ rich store of flavonoids — phytochemicals that have an effect on cell membranes.
These findings suggest that nutritional intervention can offer hope to those suffering poor balance and coordination related to aging.
Blueberries—Where to Get Them
You will find no difficulty at all in finding blueberries in most parts of the world, especially in North America and throughout Europe and even some parts of Asia.
The abundance of these berries also makes them one of the cheapest berries in the world.
For the large number of health benefits that they also contain, there should be no reason to keep these wonderful fruits away from the regular diet.
Although the best way to consume blueberries is fresh and raw, you can still enjoy the benefits of blueberries when cooked.
Before using blueberries in your favorite foods, it is essential to wash them thoroughly.
The pesticides that could potentially be on blueberries can have some adverse health effects, but washing the blueberries helps to remove this risk.
Perhaps the most common way to prepare blueberries is in blueberry pie.
Cooking the blueberries does remove some of its fiber content, which aids the digestive system, and does cause them to lose some of their nutritional value.
In addition, the sugar added to the pie is not healthy.
Blueberries can also be used in jams, jellies, and muffins. For a low-calorie and healthy treat, it will still satisfy your sweet tooth and allow you to reap the full benefits of blueberries.
However, simply wash off the blueberries and eat them with a dollop of whip cream on top. Or, throw some blueberries into some plain yogurt or mix with other fruit for a tasty fruit salad.
Thus, make blueberries a part of your diet. Not only will you have a delicious new taste in your life, but you’ll also be doing your health a world of good.
Here are some easy to prepare recipes that you can do with blueberries.
Blueberry Spinach Salad
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
1 (4-ounce) package blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine the first five ingredients and shake well.
2. In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach, blue cheese, blueberries, and pecans.
3. Add dressing and toss gently; serve immediately.
Blueberry Walnut Salad
1 (10-ounce) package mixed salad greens
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the blueberries, walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette.
2. Top with feta cheese to serve.
Honeydew Blueberry Soup
1 honeydew melon
6 oatmeal cookies
1. Cut the melon from the rind and into chunks.
2. Puree until smooth in a food processor or blender.
3. Pour into a large bowl and stir blueberries into pureed melon.
4. Chill until quite cold.
5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and crumble an oatmeal cookie over each serving.
Blueberry Fruit Salad
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks
1 (15-ounce) can sliced peaches
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 medium firm bananas, sliced
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 tablespoons orange breakfast drink mix
1. Drain pineapple and peaches, reserving juices; set aside.
2. Combine the fruit in a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, combine fruit juices with pudding and drink mixes.ix well.
4. Mix well.
5. Pour over fruit and toss to coat.
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1. In a bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, lemon juice and peel.
2. Cover and refrigerate just before serving.
3. Place half of the berries in dessert dishes or parfait glasses.
4. Top with half of the sour cream mixture. Repeat layers.
5. Top with whipped cream.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Health Benefits of Blueberries
- They are very high anthocyanin content
- Blueberries have several minerals apart from its high antioxidant content
- Blueberry is also a treasure-house of all the important vitamins in the body
- There has been talking about blueberries acting as an anti-aging agent
- Several mental health benefits are also derived from the regular consumption of blueberries
- Blueberries are also known for improving visual health
- One of the unique benefits of blueberries is the prevention of urinary tract infection
- Blueberries are also considered a potential cure for cancer
- Blueberries are good for better balance and coordination
– Are there blueberry products available in your area?
– Do you love to eat blueberries or anything with blueberries?
– Do you consume blueberries?
– Are there other berries you can gobble up instead?
– Are there alternative antioxidants source you can eat?
– Are there alternative source of this similar health food that you can eat?
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