Blueberries Are Tasty Treats, Offer Health Benefits
By Pamela Redwine
Fresh blueberries are one of the joys of summer. Find them at their plump and juicy best during July and August. Their delicious flavor and dazzling eye appeal can turn a simple summer meal into a feast. If you’re lucky enough to live near a berry farm or have a bush, you can pick your own and freeze them to enjoy all year.
A half-cup serving of fresh blueberries contains just 40 calories and a whopping 2.5 grams of fiber. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C and they are also high in antioxidants. In fact, they have the highest ORAC score (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of any fresh fruit! That means they can destroy free radicals in your body before they cause damage that could lead to cancer or heart disease. Research shows that eating half a cup of blueberries per day will just about double most Americans/ antioxidant intake. It is interesting to note that dried blueberries keep their antioxidant and fiber content, but lose their vitamin C.
Blueberries offer other health benefits, too. Like cranberries, blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections because they contain a substance that keeps bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. One study also suggests that tired eyes may become stronger when blueberries are included in the diet. But one of the most exciting areas of blueberry research focuses on what they may do for your brain.
Anthyocyanins, the pigments that give blueberries their beautiful color, are antioxidants that seem to work particularly well in protecting the brain from free radical damage. Memory, balance and coordination – all controlled by the brain – decline with age, but laboratory rats have shown improvement in these areas when their diet was supplemented with blueberries. There is no evidence yet that blueberries will slow down the aging process in human brains, but it’s a promising area of study.
Choose fresh blueberries that are dark blue, plump and free from mold. These are perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator. Consider purchasing blueberries in quantity at the height of the season and freezing them for later use. Simply spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then store them in a freezer container or zippered bag until ready to use.
· Eat them just the way they are
· You can use them to top a bowl of cereal or yogurt for breakfast
· Stir frozen blueberries directly into hot oatmeal and they will defrost quickly
· Add them to fruit salad or tossed salad
· Puree blueberries into an oil and vinegar dressing for a real tasty treat
· When stirring frozen blueberries into muffin, pancake or bread batter, keep them frozen and stir them in at the last minute to avoid a blue batter.
· Stir blueberries into cornbread or corn muffin batter for a wonderful taste combination!
· For a frosty summer treat, blend equal parts vanilla yogurt and blueberries and freeze in a popsicle cups.
· Blueberry smoothies are delicious and nutritious – and easy, too! Blend frozen berries with milk, soymilk or juice. You can also add other fruit (preferably frozen).
By: Pamela Redwine
2 cups frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen mixed fruit (cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and peaches), 8 ounces milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a blender or food processor, combine the blueberries, mixed fruit, milk, sugar, and vanilla; puree until thick and smooth. Pour into glasses and serve. Makes 3 servings.