Posted by Margie King
It’s hard to believe but, not that many years ago, nutrition experts were telling people to save their calories and skip the blueberries because they had no nutritional value.
Fast forward a few decades and blueberries are now widely revered as a superfood. In fact, investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, studying the link between disease and nutrition, believe that eating just one cup of blueberries every day prevents cell damage linked to cancer.
Uniquely American, blueberries are native to North America and are rarely found in Europe. They grow naturally in the woods and mountainous regions of the United States and Canada.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent cell damage. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals – atoms that contain an odd number of electrons and are highly unstable. Free radicals can cause the type of cellular damage that is a big factor in cancer development.
Blueberries are rich in one particular type of flavonoid called anthocyanins. These compounds are water soluble pigments that are red, violet or blue depending on their pH level. Apples and blueberries both get their beautiful colors from anthocyanins.
In plants, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and protect the plant from oxidative damage. In cells, they perform a similar function. Many studies suggest that antioxidants like anthocyanins may help prevent the free-radical damage associated with cancer.
But blueberries do even more. They are also rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system and can help the body to absorb iron. That’s an important consideration for cancer patients because vitamin C also helps to keep blood vessels firm.
As with any fruit, blueberry juice and other processed products may contain some nutritional value but are often missing the soluble and insoluble fiber that blueberries provide. They may also have added sugars or high fructose corn syrup, which actually feeds cancer and defeats the health benefits of the fruit.
Fresh, raw blueberries provide the most health benefits. An average serving size of raw blueberries is one cup and contains about 80 calories. They are also great frozen. Try them in this easy 5-minute sorbet recipe.
Blueberry Mango Sorbet
From The Institute for Integrative Nutrition
1 bag frozen mango
1 bag frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup apple juice
1. Put all ingredients into a blender or Vita-Mix.
2. Blend until creamy, about one minute. You may have to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times if using a regular blender.
3. Serve immediately.
4. Store any leftovers in the freezer to enjoy later.