Summer heralds blueberry season all across the US. Blueberries are a delicious fruit native to North America and Native Americans called them star berries as the flower is in the shape of a star. This perennial bush grows all over the US and 38 states produce blueberries commercially.
Small but mighty, blueberries provide 84 calories per cup and are high in fiber, Vitamin C and K, potassium and manganese. They also contain many different antioxidants which protects against damage to our cells and helps fight aging. One antioxidant called anthocyanin gives blueberries their unique and rare purplish-blue color. The numerous antioxidants in blueberries give them a high rating for improved health and research indicates some of the following benefits:
- Reduces DNA damage which helps prevent aging and risk of cancer
- Helps maintain healthy bones
- Prevents heart disease by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol also known as the “bad” cholesterol
- Helps maintain brain function and improve age related memory decline
- Fights urinary tract infections
- Prevents soreness and fatigue after strenuous exercise
The perfect blueberry has a silver sheen on the skin called the bloom which helps protect the fruit. Wash berries right before eating to help keep the skin firm for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
There are many ways to eat blueberries! Delicious on their own for a snack or added to salads, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal and smoothies. They are popular in baked goods including muffins, quick breads, energy bars, crisps, cobblers, and pies. Blueberries are easy to freeze or make into jams or jellies while the supply is plentiful. Other fun additions are using blueberries in cocktails, infused water, lemonade, popsicles, fruit slushes or even BBQ sauce.
No matter how you like blueberries, make sure to grab a boost of blue for its many nutrition benefits!