The Origin of Blueberries
Native Americans gave pilgrims many gifts in order to survive including one of America’s most favorite and most nutritious foods, the blueberry.
They referred to blueberries as star berries, because of the star shape on the stem end of the berry.
According to the Smithsonian, blueberries, which are the official state fruit of New Jersey, were cultivated by a family in that region in the early 1900’s.
By 1916, blueberries which had been cross-pollinated were ready to be enjoyed and were shared with other states to sell and enjoy.
Nutrient Dense Food
Blueberries like other plant based foods are nutrient dense. Well, what does that mean exactly?
Nutrient dense foods have readily available vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients or phytochemicals.
Phytonutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids and/or antioxidants found in berries including blueberries reduce oxidative stress in the body and therefore reduce or slow down the aging process.
These nutrients also protect us from disease and boost our immune system.
The phytonutrient, anthocyanin, gives blueberries their bright blue/purple-ish color.
Anthocyanin has been studied by various sources to show improvements for arterial function, cognition, immune system, prevention of cancer, blood sugar and digestion.
While cranberries are a popular choice for treating urinary tract infections, blueberries are just as effective.
The pro-anthocyanins and vitamin C in blueberries as published in The New England Journal of Medicine, 1998, suggests that these compounds prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.
Three different studies published in Gerontology 2012, Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 2010 and the Harvard Nurses Health Study all found that regular intake of blueberries showed significantly slower rates of cognitive decline.
Blueberries are a good choice of food to reduce or prevent signs of dementia or other neurological disorders.
In similar studies, subjects were given berry extract or flavonoid extract supplements.
These studies showed no improvement in memory or other cognitive improvement and thus proving that eating whole berries is the optimal choice.
This is another reason to support the importance of holistic nutrition for treating and preventing disease. When I mention the term, holistic, I refer to the word whole as in the nutrition of whole foods.
America’s Top Diseases
Let’s discuss America’s number one killer which is…heart disease. Well, guess what? Blueberries are very effective in assisting with the health of our arteries.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998, showed significant spikes in artery function after only an hour of eating blueberries.
I oftentimes hear specialists, doctors and even some nutritionists tell diabetics to avoid fruit because of their sugar content. However, blueberries, are safe choice for diabetics. Even adding a quarter cup to a half cup of berries with 2 or 3 meals a day will actually improve insulin sensitivity.
Blueberries also improve natural killer cell activity which is your bodies potential for cancer prevention.
Hold The Dairy
While blueberries themselves combine with our gut bacteria to assist our immune system, don’t be fooled by adding blueberries to yogurt.
Unfortunately dairy based yogurt blocks the health benefits of blueberries since milk proteins degrade the antioxidants in berries.
So, hold the dairy and eat more berries!
Next blog: Milked Out!
Be well always!