Nutrition and Health Benefits from Blueberries

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The nutrition and health benefits of blueberries
by Dan Gerhardt · All Zones · Food Nutrition · 0 Comments · March 15, 2011 · 1,995 views

Blueberry babble

Blueberries, the pop-and-mush caviar of summer picnics. Squirrels have been known to bust a move and play dodgeball with them and foxes have, on occasion, cleverly strung them up and hocked them off as rare pearls to unsuspecting beavers and badgers. On the down side, just be aware that our little blue buddies are prone to suffer from little, big-man syndrome, particularly around grapes and muscadines. When not picking fights, they are the ones being picked. They hang in random clusters that often times outline a connect-the-dots image that mimic the starry constellations in the night sky. The heavens declare the glory of God. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They use no words, no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Orion and Perseus may speak volumes, but blueberries have a one-track mind. They cry out in squeaky-clean voices (like the man-fly hybrid that was trapped in the spider web in the old, original, out-dated horror film classic The Fly), "Pick me, pick me. No, pick me. I was here first, pick me. Hey, over here, under the leaf, pick me." Being the lesser gardenality gods that we are, and recipient of such knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, we gladly oblige them. "The heavenly bodies will be shaken, and the stars shall fall from the sky."

Blueberries are blue and they are berries, hence the name. I wonder what genius thought that one up. You would think that they would have at least come up with a pleasant sounding latin name for the plant (something like augustiflorium callicarpus), but no - they got stuck with vaccinium uliginosum, which sounds like a toxic substance that the Center for Disease Control reccommends for the swine flu. But toxic they are not and dis-ease control they may be.

Blueberries in History

The blueberry is one of the few fruits that are native to North America. For centuries, blueberries were gathered by Native American Tribes who viewed them as being very special. The blossom end of each berry, called the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star. These Indians believed that the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve the children's hunger during a famine. Native Americans used blueberry leaves in medicinal teas which were thought to be good for the blood and they also used blueberry juice to treat coughs, constipation, and diarrhea. The juice also made an excellent dye for baskets and cloth.

Blueberries were also widely used in Russian folk medicine for digestive problems. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots consumed bilberries (a blueberry relative), which reportedly improved their night vision. Later studies show a sound basis for these practices because blueberries are high in bioflavonoids which are used by the rods of the eyes for night vision, have antiseptic properties, and acts as an astrigent which assists in the regulation of the water content of the stool.

Nutritional & Health Benefits From Blueberries

Blueberries are delicious, nutrient-packed powerhouses that provide you with pectin-rich fiber, a good dose of Vitamin C, some Vitamin E, potassium, iron, and many other vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. If this were not enough, blueberries contain other chemical compounds, called flavonoids, such as tannins, phenols, and anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body from the damaging effects of compounds present in the body called free radicals, which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other age-related diseases. Blueberries provide more antioxidant benefits than the vast majority of other fruits.

Current studies have shown that blueberries can help:

  • Reduce risk of cancers
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote urinary tract health
  • Boost memory function
  • Improve vision
  • Slow the aging process
  • Protect against bacterial infections
  • Strengthen heart and blood vessels
  • Regulate bowel function
  • Lower cholesterol

Blueberries are very easy to grow. Taking in a handful or two a day is a good idea and a sound practice. Blueberries can be eaten by themselves, sprinkled on cereal, mixed in with some granola and yogurt, or easily blended into a protien shake or smoothie. Either way, all you have to do is eat them...nature does the rest.

Dan Gerhardt

Meet The Author

Dan Gerhardt - Aside from being a life-long gardener, Dr. Dan Gerhardt is a chiropractor and nutritionist.

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