Blueberry muffins, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry pancake, fresh moist blueberries – just reading the words is enough to evoke that summer-sweet, luscious flavor and get your mouth watering.
Everyone knows that blueberries are delicious, but did you know they’re good for your health too? In fact, blueberries have been touted as the cure for a variety of serious medical problems, including urinary infections, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
First, let’s look at what exactly blueberries are. Blueberries are the fruit of flowering plants native to North America, now also grown in Australia, New Zealand, and some South American countries, such as Chile and Argentina. Blueberries are cultivated and picked wild.
The blueberry season in North America tends to run from mid-May to September, depending on the latitude. The fruit is best enjoyed in season, when the taste is at its peak and the nutritional value at its highest. The dark blue berries can be enjoyed raw, or more commonly made into cookies, cakes, pies, scones, cereals, jellies, jams, and even pizzas.
What’s so special about blueberries?
Blueberry is a nutritional powerhouse. They are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folate, iron, manganese, and vitamin K. 140 grams contain three grams of the dietary fiber needed by the digestive system. Their main benefit comes from antioxidant in the form of bioflavonoid.
Antioxidants are important for their ability to neutralize free radicals. When our body processes oxygen, free radicals are produced as by-products. These are highly volatile substances that can damage our cells and are thought to be responsible for aging and a host of degenerative diseases. Fortunately, substances known as antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables work to neutralize free radicals and reduce their potency. Better known bioflavonoids include hesperidin, rutin, and the anthocyanins.
Blueberries are especially rich in anthocyanins. They give blueberries their deep blue hue and offer a range of beneficial properties. This can protect blood vessels from damage caused by high blood sugar levels in diabetics.
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. And one of the more exciting findings about blueberries is that they can help arrest the mental decline that occurs with Alzheimer’s Disease.
So, what’s the best way to get your dose of blueberries? Eating them raw is best, but this is not always convenient. Fortunately, there are many ways to prepare blueberries that helps bring out their delightful flavor. The most popular is the old fashioned blueberry pie. The herbs cinnamon and mace compliment the taste of the blueberries, and the result is delightful. It’s just one of many ways to incorporate blueberries into your diet.
Starting today, make blueberries a part of your diet. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also healthy.