Nutritional and Health Benefits of Blueberries
The blueberry plant is native to North America, though today it is grown worldwide. The plant is a perennial. The berries start off a pale greenish color, change to reddish-purple while ripening, and become deep blue to dark purple when fully ripe.
Ripe berries also have a silver to blue sheen called the "bloom," which indicates they are fresh. The sheen cannot be washed off with water and stays on the berry for about 7–8 days after they are harvested. The sheen or bloom protects the berries from the harsh rays of the sun.
Latin Name : Vaccinium corymbosum
Blueberries contain a wide array of nutrients, especially micro-nutrients, and high levels of manganese, vitamin B6, C, E, K, and fiber.
They are a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, beta carotene, phenolic compounds, and ellagic acid.
Percentage of RDA
Health Benefits of Blueberries
- Blueberries are low in calories, just 83 calories in 145 grams of the fruit. Studies indicate blueberries break down fats.
- The phytochemicals like anthocyanins, flavonols, tannins, and resveratrol in blueberries may help to reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation.
- They are also believed to help in reducing the effects of Alzheimer's disease and general age-related changes.
- Blueberries may help treat urinary tract infections, maintain normal blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk, improve memory, and control depression.
- Blueberries have a low glycemic index.
- Regular consumption of blueberries has been shown to increase night vision, provide faster acclimatization to darkness, and facilitate the faster restoration of vision after exposure to bright light.
- Blueberries provide relief from both diarrhoea and constipation.
- Organically grown blueberries have been found to have higher levels of total antioxidants and anthocyanin content.
- Blueberry juice consumption has been found to improve memory function in older adults who face early memory decline.
- New evidence suggests that blueberry consumption reduces the damage to muscles due to over-exercise.
Types of Blueberry Plants
These are mainly of three types of blueberry plant:
The plant can grow to a height of 12 feet when uncultivated but stays around 4–7 feet when cultivated. Blueberries from this variety are the most commonly available in the grocery stores.
This is the wild blueberry plant growing to a height of 1–2 feet. The berry of this plant is smaller than the berry of the high bush plant. These blueberries are mainly used in processed foods.
These grow up to 20 feet in height but on cultivation remain at a height of 4–10 feet.
Selection and Storage
Blueberries that are firm to touch, smooth-skinned and purple to blue-black in colour should be bought. When buying frozen blueberries ensure that the berries move freely in the container and are not clumpy nor is there water in the container.
To store fresh blueberries remove any soft, crushed or mouldy ones and do not wash before storing. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week to 10 days.
How to Freeze Blueberries
Take dry blueberries, but do not wash them. Arrange them in a single layer in a tray on the butter paper, and put them in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, transfer them to a plastic bag and seal airtight.
Freezing does not affect the nutrient value of the antioxidant anthocyanin adversely.
Cooking may change the colour of blueberries. Lemon juice and vinegar can turn the berries reddish due to their acid content or alkaline foods like baking soda may turn their colour greenish-blue.
In cakes, muffins and scones' batter, stir in fresh or frozen blueberries last.
Uses of Blueberries
Blueberries can be eaten fresh; frozen or processed as juice or puree; or dried for use in jams, jellies, pies, muffins, cakes, scones, cheese, cereals and snacks. Wine is also prepared from blueberries.
Fresh blueberries provide the highest nutritional benefits.
Blueberry Cake Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup margarine or butter
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10" tube pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat sugar and 1/4 cup margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Alternately, add dry ingredients and milk to sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Spread 2/3 of batter into greased and floured pan; top with blueberries.
- Pour the remaining batter on top and spread evenly.
- In a medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- Using pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/4 cup margarine until mixture is crumbly.
- Stir in nuts and sprinkle mixture over batter.
- Bake at 350° for approximately 55 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown.
- Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.
Blueberry Tea Cakes Recipe
Yield: About 24 small cakes
Crumb Topping Ingredients
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper liners.
- To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and combine with a fork or your fingers until it forms crumbs. Set aside.
- To make the batter, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg, then add the milk gradually, beating after each addition. Add the batter, a small quantity at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until smooth.
- Fold the blueberries into the batter, stirring gently by hand until they are evenly distributed. Spoon the mixture into muffin tins and sprinkle each cake with a little crumb topping.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Blueberry Muffins Recipe
No-Bake Blueberry Pie Recipe
References and Studies
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Rajan Singh Jolly