Blueberries

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 20. Apr. 2020
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​Blueberries' tart yet sweet flavor and heart-healthy nutrients make it an essential ingredient for any diet.  

Blueberries

Blueberries...

  • ...can help keep you young and healthy: Blueberries contain a lot of natural coloring. Particularly good for you is the abundance of the anthocyanin myrtillin, which helps neutralize free radicals that play a major role in the aging process. The considerable amount of vitamins A, C and E which are found in blueberries also protect healthy cells.
  • ...are heart-healthy: Myrtillin, which is an anthocyanin, also improves the elasticity of blood vessels, making your blood thinner and thus acts as a preventive effect against cardiovascular diseases.
  • ...help detoxify your body: Wild blueberries, in particular, contain large amounts of tannins that help the liver break down harmful substances and thus promote detoxification.
  • ...combat pathogens: The secondary plant compounds found in blueberries inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses. They can, for example, protect mucous membranes in the intestines during a bought of diarrhea and generally strengthen the immune system.
  • ...reduce fat in your blood: Blueberries contain considerable amounts of pectin, a soluble fiber. Pectin not only stimulates digestion but also binds fat in the intestines and thus helps to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.
  • ...increase blood cell counts: With only roughly 1 milligram of iron, blueberries are not among the top sources for the mineral. But thanks to the combination of around 22 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, blueberries still effectively increase blood cell counts and promote blood flow and circulation.

What You Should Know About Blueberries

Blueberries grow on flowering shrubs and are closely related to berries that grow on similar shrubs such as cranberries and huckleberries. There are two common varieties of blueberries, highbush blueberries which are commonly cultivated in the US and lowbush of ‘wild’ blueberries. Wild blueberries can be found growing in in forests on smaller shrubs, which grow to the height of only 20 inches. Wild blueberries are also generally smaller than the grocery store variety but are said to be more flavorful and richer in some antioxidants. More commonly though are highbush blueberries, which are grown and cultivated by farmers. This kind of blueberry is the kind you can find commonly in the grocery store comes from bushes that grow up to 12 feet tall.
 

Origins

Blueberries originated in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. 

Seasonality

Although blueberries are available all year round as imported goods, in most states blueberries are in season from May to July. 

Flavor

Blueberries have a subtle sweet flavor. 

Find our favorite blueberry recipes here.

How Healthy Are Blueberries?

Blueberries might be small but they are mighty. This is in part due to the abundance of myrtillin in that’s found in blueberries. Myrtillin is a natural coloring agent that not only gives blueberries its blue color but also helps neutralize free radicals, which play an important role in the development of chronic disease and premature aging. 

In addition, myrtillin also promotes the elasticity of the blood vessels and thus has a preventive effect against cardiovascular diseases. The considerable content of vitamin C and E in blueberries also protect cells and strengthens the immune system.

In natural medicine, blueberries have for centuries been known as an effective remedy for intestinal problems. Wild blueberries, in particular, are extremely rich in tannins which, for example, can protect mucous membranes in the intestines during a bought of diarrhea and inhibits the growth of bacteria and viruses. Compared to other berries, blueberries contain a relatively high amount of fiber and therefore also stimulate digestion and help against intestinal diseases.

Blueberry Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 42
Protein 0.6 g
Fat 0.5 g
Carbohydrates 7.4 g
Fiber 4.9 g

Shopping and Preperation Tips

Shopping

When buying blueberries, make sure that they look nice and plump and have flawless skin. They should not look "cobbled" or be moist. Also take a look at the underside of the cardboard box, as it shouldn’t be soaked or discolored.

Storage

Blueberries are pressure-sensitive, can easily get moldy and can become bitter if stored for too long. It is, therefore, best to eat fresh blueberries as soon as possible and store for a maximum of 2-3 days loosely spread out on a large plate and kept cool. Storing blueberries this way will help the berries stay fresh longer.

Preparation

Blueberries are best tossed back and forth in a bowl of freshwater and then drained well in a sieve.

What To Make with Blueberries

You can use blueberries to bake delicious cakes, pies, and of course muffins. Slightly crushed blueberries can also be stirred into yogurt or used to make ice cream. Of course, an old favorite is to make blueberry jam. 

Since blueberries are sweet, they are also the perfect complement to savory dishes. Sprinkle them over a mixed salad or use them in sauces for game or poultry dishes. 

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