One of the nation's most well liked fruits, blueberries have origins in both Europe and here in the United States.
The Native Americans were the first to incorporate berries into their diets and lifestyle. Today, blueberries are appreciated worldwide.
The delicious, juicy blueberry has been named by several sources as the new disease-fighting super food. Blueberries are low in fat, sodium free, a good source of fiber and vitamin C, and a great way to incorporate disease-fighting antioxidants into your diet.
Many berries are suitable to eat raw and most types vary from 50 to 100 calories per serving if eaten raw.
Nutrients Per 1/2-Cup Serving
Note: Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
- Calories: 40
- No fat content in blueberries.
- No cholesterol in blueberries.
- No sodium in blueberries.
- Total carbohydrates in 1/2-cup is 11g.
- Dietary fiber in 1/2-cup is 2g.
- Sugars in 1/2-cup is 7g - plus the sugars are all natural.
- Vitamin C in 1/2-cup is 10 percent.
- Iron in 1/2-cup is 2 percent.
In fact, blueberries are natures antioxidant! Antioxidant benefits include the possibility that they may boost brain functions that weaken as we age, according to Tufts researchers. Other scientists have found in animal testing that blueberries may lower cholesterol levels.
This healthy, convenient fruit was cherished by early settlers as a staple ingredient in foods and medicines. And today, North America is the world's leading producer of blueberries, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the produce. Harvest runs from mid-April through early October, with peak harvest in July, National Blueberry Month.
Choosing Your Blueberries
Choose firm blueberries that are uniform in size and indigo blue in color with a silvery frost. Discard shriveled or moldy berries and store the rest in a moisture-proof container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Don't wash fresh, frozen, or dried blueberries until just before serving.
Although berries are among the most perishable fruits, fresh blueberries can last up to 10 days in the refrigerator. If you'd like them to last even longer, freezing them at home is simple and will enable you to enjoy those tasty berries for up to one year.
Blueberries and Aging
Blueberries also act as an anti-aging superstar. In fact, in the book, "The Color Code", the blueberry is said to be "One of the best age-proofing foods in your diet". Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin K, which Tufts researchers suggest may play a role in preventing osteoporisis and hardening of the arteries.
Blueberry for the Bladder
Blueberries, like cranberries, contain compounds that prevent bacteria from adhering to bladder walls, which helps ward off urinary-tract infections (UTIs), according to a Rutgers university study. If you get UTI's, toss a handful of blueberries into your cereal or smoothie.
Blueberries: A Fat Burner?
Blueberries contain antioxidants that seem to help the body burn fat rather than store it. They taste great in smoothies, on cereal and salads.
Blueberry Aids Detox
Blueberries contain natural aspirin that helps reduce the tissue damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while reducing pain. Blueberries also act as an antibiotic by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They also have antiviral properties.
Blueberry Water Eye Wash
To make this wonderful eye wash take a good handful of blueberry flowers and soak them in boiling water, infusing for several minutes. Strain out the pulp and wash the eyes with warm compresses of the lotion.
Blueberrie's anthocyanins - which give them their blue hue - attack cancer causing free radicals and can even blcok the growth of tumor cells, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study found. Eating just half a cup a day (like in a slice of pie!) is all you need.
Blueberries: A Brain Food
To work smarter, pack dried blueberry trail mix for a snack. A study from the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School in England suggests that blueberries reverse age-related memory loss, thanks to its abundance of antioxidants called flavonoids.
Blueberry: A Skin Reviver
Soften up with this scrub: Combine 2 cups brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pureed blueberries, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Blueberry's antioxidants soften the skin, lemon juice brightens, and sugar exfoliates.
To grow beautiful blueberries, occasionally water plants with a mixture of two tablespoons white vinegar to one quart water. Blueberry and cranberry plants love acid and grow best in soils with a pH below 6.5.
To kill earwigs on blueberries, fill a jar lid with Wesson Corn Oil and place it in the garden. The earwigs are attracted to the oil and drown in it.
In general, blueberries should be dry, firm, well shaped, and eaten within a week after purchase. If you can't eat them that soon, remember that berries freeze well! It is best to buy blueberries that are in-season as they will cost less and are more ripe and flavorful than out-of-season berries. Select blueberries that are firm, dry, plump, and smooth-skinned. Berries should be deep-purple blue to blue-black; reddish berries are not ripe but can be used in cooking.
Freezing Your Blueberries
To freeze, place one layer of unwashed berries on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Transfer them to a plastic freezer bag as soon as frozen. Don't forget to wash them quickly before using.
The head of the USDA Phytochemical Laboratory at Tufts and the scientist who discovered the secret power of blueberries, Ronald Prior, PhD, recommends adding one-half cup of blueberries to your diet every day! This is a far cry from the current average intake in America of 2-1/2 cup a year! If blueberries are out of season, try frozen blueberries blended into a blueberry smoothie.
Blueberry Helpful Hints
Blueberries tend to change color during cooking. Acids, like lemon juice and vinegar, make the blue in blueberries turn red. In an alkaline environment, such as a batter with too much baking soda, the blueberries may turn greenish-blue.
To reduce the amount of color streaking, stir your blueberries (right from your freezer, if frozen) into your cake or muffin batter last.
When making pancakes and waffles, add the blueberries as soon as the batter has been poured on the griddle or waffle iron. This will make the pancakes prettier and they will be easier to flip. If frozen blueberries are used, cooking time may have to be increased to be sure the berries are heated through.
- Are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants.
- Are low in fat, sodium free, and a good source of vitamin C.
- Are a good source of fiber.
Blueberry Blitz Banana Smoothie
1 banana, cut into pieces
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
2 cups milk
1/2 cup natural yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until creamy. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 2 cups, for 2 1-cup servings. Preperation time five minutes or less!
Easy Blueberry Pie Recipe
This blueberry pie whips up in a snap! Use blueberry jam or fruit spread spiced with cinnamon. Then add your blueberries, pour into a pre-made crust and bake!
1 home made or frozen 9-inch pie shell
1 jar (16 oz) blueberry jam or fruit spread
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
Prebake a home made or frozen 9-inch pie shell. Combine one 16-ounce jar of blueberry jam or fruit spread and one-quarter-teaspoon ground cinnamon in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for about one minute, until mixture liquefies.
Stir in 2-cups of fresh blueberries and spoon mixture into pre-baked crust. Chill and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Blueberry Cracker Bites
Spread 3-tablespoons light cream cheese spread onto two Ritz Reduced Fat Crackers. Top each cracker with five frozen blueberries. Makes 1 healthy snack serving!
Blueberry Crumble Recipe
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Prepare an 8-inch-round baking dish with butter-flavored nonstick pan spray. In a small bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the margarine with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.
Place the berries in a prepared baking dish. Cover with the crumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm. Recipe makes 2-1/2 cups (5 servings).
Nutritional information per serving (1/2 cup):
Calories: 164; Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 159mg; Carbohydrates: 26g; Protein: 2g; Fiber: 2g
Exchanges: 1 Starch, 1/2 Fruit, 1 Fat
Did you know?
July is National Blueberry Month.
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