Blueberries: A Healthy Fruit Sometimes Forgotten
Many fruits are available year round but summer brings a variety of different kinds of fresh fruits such as melons, peaches, strawberries, blueberries and the list goes on. But, have you forgotten to include blueberries in your diet?
Blueberries provide many health benefits and are believed to slow disease progression, such as cardiovascular diseases, due to their diverse range of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are commonly referred to as phytonutrients and are naturally occurring non-nutritive elements in fruits and vegetables. They provide biological properties such as anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
All of our lives we have heard about vitamin C and how good it is for the body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant needed to stop free radicals from harming our bodies. During our everyday activities, like breathing air with pollution and the sun, free radicals form in our bodies. Free radicals promote aging and disease. Blueberries have 38% more free radical fighters or antioxidants than red wine.
Another excellent antioxidant that is found in blueberries is vitamin E. This vitamin helps us to have healthy skin and good vision. Blueberries are also an excellent source of fiber. One cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, which is about 20% of the fiber we need in a day.
When selecting blueberries, make sure they are firm, dry, plump and have smooth skin. Avoid blueberries that have blemishes. Shake the package of berries as they should move freely when shaken. If the berries do not move freely, it means they are too soft and overripe. Juice stains on containers could be a sign that the blueberries are overripe. Moisture on blueberries indicate water is present and can cause them to decay.
If you pick blueberries from a u-pick farm or purchase them from the store or a farmer’s market, you should not wash them until right before you eat or cook them. If you’ve noticed blueberries, they have a cloudy/dusty look, which is a natural protective coating that helps to keep the berries fresh. If you wash the berries, it removes the protective coating and the berries will deteriorate much faster.