Food Facts: Blueberries
One of nature’s greatest gifts: zesty, beautiful blueberries that range in taste from mildly sweet to tart and tangy and burst with nutrition and lusciousness.
Blueberries are native to North America and Europe and were enjoyed by Native Americans for hundreds of years. They grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep purple in colour ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-grey waxy “bloom” that cover surface.
Nutritional highlights and health benefits:
Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins. These antioxidant compounds are responsible for the blue, purple and red pigments. Blueberries are also excellent sources of Vitamin C, insoluble fibre and soluble fibre like pectin. They are also good sources of manganese, vitamin E and riboflavin (B2).
The health benefits are mainly due to the anthocyanidins. Blueberries rated the highest out of 60 fruits and vegetables for this antioxidant!
Researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The most popular medical use of blueberries at present is to improve vision and protect against age-related macular degeneration. Research also indicates that blueberries may protect against the development of cataracts and glaucoma.
Blueberries are a popular remedy for diarrhoea and constipation. In addition to the soluble and insoluble fibre, blueberries contain tannins, which act as astringents in the digestive system to firm up a loose stool.
Blueberries contain the same compounds found in cranberries that help eliminate urinary tract infections. They reduce the ability of E., the bacterium that is the most common cause of urinary tract infections to adhere to the mucosal lining of the urethra and bladder.
How to select and store:
Choose blueberries that are firm and have a uniform colour with a whitish bloom. Avoid blueberries that are soft and watery in texture. Water will cause decay. Ripe blueberries should be stores in a covered container in the fridge, where they will keep for about a week.
Ripe blueberries can be frozen – spread them out in a baking tray, place in freezer until frozen, then put them in a plastic bag for storage.
Quick serving ideas:
Add ½ cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to your favourite smoothie recipe;
They are very tasty in granola or muesli;
Layer yogurt and blueberries in a pretty glass for a parfait;
Use as a topping for breakfast pancakes;
Make blueberry and chia jam.
Try to dig into raw blueberries for the most amazing taste and loads of nutritional benefits!
W. Kalt, J. E. McDonald, R. D. Ricker, X. Lu.Anthocyanin content and profile within and among blueberry species
Marge Starast, Kadri Karp, Ele Vool, Ulvi Moor. Chemical Composition and Quality of Cultivated and Natural Blueberry Fruit in Estonia.
KA Youdim, B Shukitt-Hale, A Martin, H Wang Short-term dietary supplementation of blueberry polyphenolics: beneficial effects on aging brain performance and peripheral tissue function. Nutr Neurosci, 2000