Blueberries

April 21, 2011

Blueberries are one of America's truly native fruits, and have been an important part of the Native American diet for centuries. Often added to fresh or dried to stews, blueberry juice was used as a cough syrup, blueberry leaves were made into tea and ground dried blueberries were used as a meat rub. After a harsh winter that decimated the settlers' community, the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and gather local food, blueberries were an important element. A beverage made with blueberries was an important staple for Civil War Soldiers. In the 1880s a blueberry canning industry began in the Northeast USA. Fast-forward to the present...North America is the leading producer of blueberries, growing 90% of the world's annual blueberry harvests. We now know and science supports what our forbears knew long ago ... blueberries offer great value to any nutritional regimen!
  • Anti-aging: Blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants, which help prevent early aging while offering protection against diseases like cancer and chronic heart disease. The antioxidants prevent cell damage by neutralizing the radicals and helping keep diseases at bay. Blueberries also fight against inflammation and appear to prevent and relieve arthritic symptoms, as the nutrients in blueberries may strengthen blood vessels, supporting healthier blood pressure levels and heart health.
  • Brain Health Booster: In a study at Tufts University, aged rats were fed a blueberry extract for two months and saw improved navigation skills in mazes as well as improvements in balance, coordination and running speed. As rats age, they typically forget how to maneuver through mazes that they previously had learned to navigate. The lead researcher stated that the rats fed blueberries showed a significant reversal age-related coordination and balance issues. Simply put, blueberries may help reverse short-term memory loss and age-related motor skill losses.
  • Vision Protection: Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin A. Blueberries are known to prevent vision loss due to aging. During World War II, the British Air Force ate blueberries to enhance night vision and quicker adjustment to darkness. A recent Japanese study concluded that blueberry extract is beneficial for the prevention of weak eyesight and the best way to relieve tired eyes for people on the go.
  • Cancer Protection: Blueberries contain other antioxidants that help prevent the growth of cancer cells. An Ohio State University study found that blueberries shrunk the size of tumors and significantly improved survival rates in an animal research project. Mice with blood vessel tumors that were fed blueberry extract lived twice as long as mice that weren't given blueberries. The tumors in the mice fed blueberries were 60 percent smaller than the other group! Lab studies have shown that the benefits of blueberries include preventing colon cancer and ovarian cancer. Blueberries should have a special place in a woman’s diet, making a major difference in preventing ovarian cancer, the most common form of cancer in women.
Blueberries are also an excellent source of vitamin C, supporting the formation of collagen and maintaining healthy gums and capillaries. They also aid in the absorption of iron and promote a healthy immune system. They are a good source of fiber, contributing to heart health, helping keep cholesterol in check and aiding in digestion. On top of all that, blueberries are an excellent source of manganese, assisting in the development of healthy bones and in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Finally, blueberries taste great whether on your cereal in the morning, dried as an afternoon snack, or added to your dinner salad -- try with a raspberry vinaigrette! Blueberries - a delicious, healthy treat for the pickiest of eaters!

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