Blueberries…They taste too good to be so healthy!
Current research indicates that blueberries top the list of some 40 fruits, juices, and vegetables in their antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are responsible for keeping us young, healthy and smart. On top of that blueberries are low-fat, sodium free and a good source of both fiber and vitamin C. There are a lot of reasons to love this great tasting fruit that requires no pitting or peeling–just rinse, eat and enjoy.
In a USDA study, researchers found that BLUEBERRIES ranked highest in disease-fighting antioxidants when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells and DNA and lead to some forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases of aging. Anthocyanins which is the pigment that gives blueberries their beautiful color, also give them their high antioxidant activity.
Did You Know?
- Blueberries are a healthy and convenient snack that requires no pitting or peeling–just rinse, eat and enjoy!
- Blueberries are the second most popular berry in the United States. (Strawberries are the first.)
- Blueberries are grown in 35 U.S. States
- Blueberry muffins are the most popular muffins in America
- The month of July is National Blueberry Month in America
- Over 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown every year in North America.
- Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C: one cup provides nearly one-third of an adult’s daily requirement.
- Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin A, containing more than any other berry.
- Only 80 fat-free calories per cup of blueberries.
Tribute To American Farmers!
✓ 2% of the population is farm and ranch families
✓ 97% of all farms are family owned
✓ 14% of U.S. farms are operated by women
✓ The average age of today’s farmer: 55.3
✓ 155 people are fed by a single American Farmer
✓ 2 times more food is produced by today’s farmer than their parents did using less land, energy, water and fewer emissions
✓ 21 MILLION American workers produce, process and sell the nation’s food and fiber.
-Quoted from The Blueberry People
- Blueberries are low-fat, sodium free, and a good source of fiber. A one-cup serving of fresh blueberries will give you 5 grams of fiber–more than most fruits and vegetables.
- There is mounting scientific evidence that blueberries are powerful little disease fighters.
- A half cup of blueberries every day can help you whip through your to-dos faster. Researchers discovered that the anthocyanins and other antioxidants in the sweet treat may trigger the growth of new neurons in the brain, which governs motor skills, memory and learning.
- We are studying why blueberries seem to improve brain function by taking a look at the chemistry of the brain. There may be substances in blueberries, in addition to antioxidants, that help keep the message signals moving from brain cell to brain cell. (quoted from James A. Joseph, Ph.D. USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging Boston, MA.)
- “We analyzed the antioxidant activity of 100 foods and found blueberries to be one of the richest sources of all. Antioxidants are important because they reduce oxidative stress that can cause damage to cells, leading to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging. ” (Ronald Prior, Ph.D. USDA Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center Little Rock, Arkansas)
- Research continues that points to a possible relationship between blueberries and improved brain function and improving short-term memory.
- The compound pterostilbene, found in blueberries, is being studied as a cholesterol lowering substance and a cancer treatment. The antioxidant properties of blueberries are believed to lower the build-up of bad cholesterol and to help neutralize free radicals that are responsible for certain cancers. The best results have been seen in colon cancer, where the blueberry compounds stop the cell growth.
- The high levels of vitamins E, C and A, selenium, zinc and phosphorus found in blueberries are also known to promote healthy eyes.
- The skin of the blueberry is high in fiber which helps digestion and prevents constipation. The acid content, copper, and sodium in blueberries also helps keep the digestive tract running smoothly.
- A diet high in antioxidants, like those found in blueberries, increases the strength of the immune system which allows the body to fight off viruses such as the cold and flu.
- In preliminary studies another compound in blueberries may help promote urinary tract health by preventing the bacteria b-coli from building up on the wall of the urinary tract. Blueberries have both an antibacterial effect and an antibiotic effect that helps prevent urinary tract infections.
- Just one-half cup of blueberries helps meet the recommended goal of 5 to 9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
- #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy natures finest with some of our delicious blueberries.
- Blueberries contain natural compounds that help our bodies stay healthy and may help prevent age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and some forms of cancer.
- Blueberries are the oldest known plants still living—they have been traced back 13.000 years. An oldie, but a goodie.
- Blueberries are related to azaleas, camellias, heathers, and rhododendrons.
- Blueberries are becoming more popular than ever—over 1500 new products containing blueberries were introduced in 2013!!!
- Look at all the reasons to love this great tasting little blue fruit….powerful disease fighters!
The research that has already been done on blueberries shows that the health benefits of this small fruit are great. More research is being done all of the time with the potential for even greater discoveries.
*Some information taken from USHBC 2005 newsletter, from The Tasty Berry That’s BIG on Health brochure, InDepthInfo, as well as other sources. Eenigenburg’s Berry Farm is not responsible for the information listed here.
The History of Blueberries
The blueberry is an indigenous American species with deep roots in America’s history. It is one of three fruits native to North America. By the time the pilgrims arrived, Native Americans were already enjoying blueberries year round through clever preservation techniques. They were dried in the sun, then added whole to soups, stews and meats; or crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat as a preservative. Native Americans gave blueberries to the new settlers, helping them make it through their first winter. North American Indians used Blueberries for medicinal uses, spiritual reasons, and as for a food supplement.
The medicinal uses of Blueberries by the Native Americans are quite extensive. Tea was made from the roots and leaves of the Blueberry plant. Tea made from the leaves was used as a blood tonic to help purify the blood and as a curative for other conditions. Tea made from the roots was called “Squaw root”, “Papoose root” and “Blue Cohosh”. The Indians believed that the root tea “Blue Cohosh” triggered labor and hastened childbirth. Some of these medicinal uses are still used today as alternative medicines. New research today is continually uncovering the many benefits of Blueberry consumption.
During the 1600’s, the English settled the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Indians showed the Pilgrims how to use native plants to supplement their diet. One of these important native crops was Blueberries. The Pilgrims learned from Native Americans that the Blueberry was an essential native plant to help in their survival. When English settlers arrived in America, they tried to implement English farming practices in America. The New England settlers nearly starved to death until the Indians taught them about native plants. In addition to teaching the settlers about growing corn, the Wampanoag Indians taught English settlers of Plymouth how to gather and dry blueberries to keep them through the winter.
In the 1800s blueberries became one of the first fruits to be canned and processed. The civil war began in 1861 and there was a demand for portable food to provide for the Union troops and to help prevent scurvy. Blueberries played a very important part in providing a nutritional juice supplement to the Union troops diet. In Maine the sardine canners began to can blueberry juice and the industry thrived during the civil war. Thousands of bushels of blueberries were processed for the war. When the war was over the market continued to grow into the 1900s because even when the soldiers returned home they still wanted the blueberry drink and the market continued to grow.
The blueberries used by the Indians were the wild, or low bush variety. Most blueberries that are cultivated today are the high bush variety that was domesticated in the early 20th century by Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville. The plants have been improved over the years to increase the size, color and yield of the berry. Cultivation has been so successful that America now grows over 90% of the blueberries in the world.
Botanists estimate that blueberries have been around for more than 13,000 years. However, it wasn’t cultivated until the first quarter of this century. Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick V. Coville were the first to develop the hybrid for cultivated highbush blueberries by domesticating and improving wild blueberry species. The result is the plump, juicy, sweet and easy-to-pick berry that we enjoy today. We would not have the quality of fresh Blueberries if it was not for the work done by Elizabeth White and Dr. Coville. Botanically, the blueberry is part of a family that includes the flowering azalea, mountain laurel and heather–plants that like acid soil, plenty of water and cool climate. Today, there are dozens of varieties thriving across the country and commercially produced in thirty-five states.
Blueberries and Medicinal Uses
Blueberries also have a place in the history of folk medicine. Their roots were brewed into a tea to help women relax during childbirth and blueberry syrup was a cure for coughs. Blueberries have long been associated with good eyesight. Modern science is just beginning to discover what ancient cultures have long known; Blueberries are good for us in many ways.
- Native Americans ate blueberries fresh and used to sun dry and smoke blueberries to store them for the winter months. Dried blueberries were used in soups and stews and used as a rub for meat.
- Early American colonists made gray paint by boiling blueberries in milk. The blue paint used to paint woodwork in Shaker houses was made from sage blossoms, Indigo and blueberry skins, mixed with milk.
- Blueberries grow on bushes. A healthy blueberry plant can produce thousands of ‘flower” buds every year. Every flower can turn into a berry, but for flowers to become berries, bees have to carry pollen from flower to flower.
- Native Americans called blueberries “star berries’ because the blossom end of each blueberry forms a five-point star. They believed that the ‘Great Spirit” sent these star berries to feed their children when they were hungry.
- Native Americans harvested the blueberries, dried them, beat them into a pulp and combined them with cornmeal, honey, and water to make a pudding called Sautauthig. The pilgrims loved Sautauthig and many historians believe that it was part of the first Thanksgiving feast.
- The juice of the fruit was used to make cough syrup while the leaves were made into a tea meant to fortify the blood. The juice was also used as a dye for cloth and baskets.
What the Indians knew years ago has recently been rediscovered: blueberries are very good for your health. During the Civil War soldiers drank a blueberry beverage that was supposed to improve their health. Now recent studies are showing the many health benefits of eating blueberries.