Many fruits are famous for their health promoting properties. We’ve all been told that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Another good one is, “The Vitamin C in oranges will keep you healthy”.
We have only recently begun to understand and appreciate the superior nutritional value of the blueberry. In May of 2019 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published proof that daily blueberry consumption had a positive impact on cardio-metabolic function in patients with cardiovascular disease.
In simpler terms, consuming 1 cup of blueberries each day improved heart function in subjects with heart disease. Pretty amazing for such a small innocent fruit!
The study was able to determine improvements in cardiovascular function by looking at arterial stiffness and lipid profiles among other factors. Wild organic blueberries in particular improved endothelial function and resulted in a 12-15% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
History of Blueberries and Their Antioxidant Properties
Blueberries are in the same family as the cranberry, bilberry, azalea, mountain laurel, and rhododendron. They are native to the mountains and woodlands of North America and were common in the diets of North American Indians. Wild organic blueberries were not cultivated extensively until the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, blueberries are finally getting the recognition they deserve as the purveyors of super nutrients. In a study at Tufts University where 60 fruits and vegetables were analyzed for their antioxidant impact, the relatively tiny blueberry led the way. Tufts’ study proved that blueberries are great at reducing free radical damage.
Blueberries contain the antioxidant phytonutrients anthocyanidins. These antioxidants have been tied to counteracting the damage caused by free radicals that can lead to a host of conditions and diseases. Cataracts, heart disease, cancer, varicose veins, and ulcers are all caused by free radicals. Blueberries have also shown promise in protecting against macular degeneration, colon cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
With all this going for it, wouldn’t it be a shame to pass up this luscious marble-shaped fruit in your grocery store? One cup of blueberries contains over 14% of the Daily Value of fiber, a nutrient often neglected. Blueberries are also very high in vitamin K. They represent a significant source of other vitamins, minerals, phenolics and flavonoids.
Conclusion: How To Pick Out The Best Blueberries
If you’re convinced that the blueberry is the fruit for you, how should you go about selecting your berries? Of course, blueberries are a summer fruit and you cannot go wrong purchasing during the season. Like many other fruits and vegetables blueberries can be purchased year round with pleasing results.
Look for blueberries that are firm and uniform in color. If the berries move easily in the container when you shake them, take this as a sign that they are fresh. Pass over berries that show any sign of mold, damage, or have a dull color. Also avoid berries that appear watery as moisture will cause the berries go bad at a faster rate.
Blueberries are also an excellent frozen fruit, so you could always buy frozen berries too. You can check the quality by shaking the bag. If the berries move freely; buy them, if they feel as if they are clumped together, this is usually a sign that they have been thawed and refrozen. In this case, you may want to wait for another day to make your purchase.
If the blueberry is a fruit you have neglected in the past, you may want to reintroduce yourself. A healthy heart will make a happy you for many years to come. Try to choose wild organic blueberries whenever possible as they come straight from the source.