Rich antioxidant content makes for numerous benefits of blueberries. Blueberries, both wild and cultivated, do not just taste great, they can help prevent and treat a number of health ailments.
Blueberries are native to North America and Eastern Asia; the almost 30 variations can be found in a variety of locations. Clusters of wild blueberry bushes grow in mountainous regions across the United States and Canada.
The blueberry shrub belongs to the heath family, with other fruits such as the cranberry and bilberry.
Blueberries can vary slightly in size, but are rarely larger than a marble; most are an indigo blue, but color variations include maroon and purplish-black. The blueberry is protected with a waxy skin that contains anthocyanin, a flavanoid with great nutritional value.
Blueberries are in season May through October, the time during which they have the greatest nutritional value and taste the best. Blueberries should be kept refrigerated until use and will last between seven and fourteen days. They should not be washed until ready for use, as any water that remains on the berries will cause them to mold sooner.
In order to reap the benefits of blueberries all year round you can freeze ripe berries for the winter or up to one year or can them. Before freezing, rinse and drain the berries. Alternatively, you can purchase a nutritional supplement made from blueberries.
Despite the small size, blueberries offer a considerable amount of nutritional value. Coined the “super fruit,” blueberries are loaded with anti-oxidants; in fact, they have the highest anti-oxidant value of any food. Anti-oxidants help fight free radicals, which contribute to many health maladies including cataracts, glaucoma, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer.
Anti-oxidants found in blueberries include:
- Anthocyanin, which fights free radicals
- Vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system
- B Complex, which is good for the nervous system
- Vitamin A, known to promote eye health
- Copper, helps the immune system fight bacteria
- Selenium, which promotes brain health
- Zinc, which prevent and fights infection
- Iron, which increases oxygenated blood is great for the brain and warding off fatigue
Blueberries also contain Potassium, essential for heart health, fiber, essential for good digestion and proanthocyanins, a type of flavonoid.
Additional Benefits of blueberries include:
- Anti-Aging Properties
- Disease Prevention
- Improved eyesight
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections
- Weight Loss/Control
- Enhanced Memory
Blueberries are safe and have no known negative effects. They can be consumed all year round, prepared in a number of different ways and enjoyed at any age.
Blueberries are small in size, but impressive in healing properties. The benefits of blueberries are associated with their high anti-oxidant content as well as other nutrients. Fresh blueberries provide the greatest amount of benefits; they can be frozen or canned for use in the off-season or you can take a nutritional supplement.