The blueberry is native to North America and grows on small shrubs. The European version is similar and known as a bilberry.
They are grown in many states and are the state fruit in Maine. Hammonton, New Jersey calls itself the “Blueberry capital of the world” and produces 80% of the states crop. They have a large blueberry festival each year that draws thousands of people.
Blueberries are light to dark blue in color and when completely ripe almost a dark purple. They are round and small, usually .02 to .065 inches in size. The shrubs also contain flowers that are white, red or pink in color.
Harvest time varies depending on location and conditions ranging anywhere from May to August.
Frozen blueberries are a good bargain fruit and contain the same benefits as fresh. This makes them a great choice for those who have a low budget for groceries. They are also readily available in frozen form in grocery stores across the country so they are easy to obtain.
There are many ways to enjoy this sweet, delicious fruit. You can toss them on salad or add them to smoothies to add flavor as well as nutrients. Adding them to yogurt can provide a healthy and low calorie dessert.
They can also be added to cereal or baked in pies or muffins but eat these treats in moderation and avoid if you are diabetic. The fruit is also used to make jams, jellies and even wine.
Fresh blueberries are one of the best fruits for people who are trying to lose weight or who have diabetes because they are lower in sugar than most fruit.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Due to the studies of Dr. James Joseph at Tufts University, blueberries are now widely recognized as “brain food”. They are known as a memory protecting food because they help the neurons in your brain continue to signal each other even as you grow older. This prevents memory loss and aids in helping retain coordination and the ability to balance well. This is due to the polyphenols in the fruit.
Eating this fruit can help you fight the onset of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
They also help lower bad cholesterol reducing the risk of stroke.
Due to the antioxidants they contain, blueberries are rated as one of the best cancer fighting foods.
Blueberries are packed with vitamin C with one cup contains 14 mg. This vitamin helps build your immune system and fight off many illnesses including the common cold.
Other nutrients include Vitamin E, copper, iron, selenium and zinc. These also help to build the immune system and fight off infections.
They are an anti-inflammatory which means they can help those who suffer from arthritis.
You only need to eat a small amount of this fruit, usually a cup a day, to get these benefits.
Due to it’s many antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins; blueberries are often considered one of the “super foods”. Adding them to your diet can improve your health in a multitude of ways.