Friday, July 24, 2015

Market Haul: Blueberries

  Blueberries: A Visionary Fruit

Studies in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries (the European cousin of blueberries) and improved eyesight. In fact, most researchers believe that the substance, anthocyanin (the blue pigment of the blueberry) is responsible for eyesight improvement. In a recent study, researchers at Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability – blueberries came out on top! They are loaded with vitamin C, very low in calories (about 80 calories per cup) and are a good source of dietary fiber. Moreover, Pterostilbene (pronounced – TARE – on – STILL – bean) a powerful antioxidant found in blueberries is already known to help fight cancer and may also help to lower cholesterol.

James Joseph once director of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University researched the potential of blueberries to improve short-term memory loss and the decline of motor skills associated with aging. “The blueberry has emerged as a very powerful food in the aging battle," said Joseph. "Given the possibility that blueberries may reverse short-term memory loss and forestall other effects of aging, their potential may be very great." This delicious berry contains more age-proofing, disease-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable.

What are you waiting for? Now that it has been established that blueberries have powerful health benefits and they are nutritional stars, here are a few tip and possibilities.

There are several varieties of blueberries, one of the most common is the highbrush variety that grows in the Eastern seaboard of the United States, primarily from Maine to Florida. The blueberry season runs from May through October. Choose blueberries that are firm - shake the container, if the blueberries don’t move freely, this indicates they are soft and possibly moldy. Ripe blueberries should be stored (covered) in the refrigerator. They will keep for about a week, but like most delicate fruit they should be eaten within one-two days of purchase. Wash blueberries just prior to use.

Classic favorites include blueberry pie, muffins and cobblers. But blueberries are also delicious tossed with fresh fruit, as a landscape for salad greens, cereal or yogurt or try adding a cup of blueberries to your breakfast smoothie. Blueberries have gained such popularity you can buy blueberry bagels and blueberry ice cream, they also come dried (like cranberries) and blueberry juice is available in most grocery stores. There is even blueberry wine!