Another little dietary powerhouse is the blueberry. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. According to the USDA database of the antioxidant activity of selected foods (ORAC values), blueberries rank among the highest on a per serving basis. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins that give blueberries their blue hue, are the major contributors to the antioxidant activity of blueberries. A lot of scientific terminology, but it all means that blueberries are very good for you. Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. One serving (1cup) of blueberries contains almost 25% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C, and only 80 calories. Blueberries are also an excellent source of manganese. Manganese plays an important role in the development of bones and in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate and fat. In Texas, blueberry harvest happens in June and July. In other parts of the country the season continues into September, although the bushes grow year-round.
Blueberries can also be purchased dried and can be a tasty addition to a lot of the same things you'd use dried cranberries in. While some research has shown dried blueberries to be as much as four times higher in antioxidants, they are also higher in calories and sugar. That is always true of dried versus fresh. However, dried fruit has a few other benefits. It's high in fiber. It's a healthier alternative to sugary snacks and a good source of quick energy. Many dried fruits are also high in iron, potassium, and selenium — all important nutrients for maintaining healthy blood and muscles.
For this week, we'll be focusing on fresh blueberries. I'll bring you some interesting recipes as well as the old favorites. If you've yet to try blueberries or have been hesitant to use them in recipes. Step out and give one of the recipes I provide here a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.