Blueberries hold a special place in the foods of North America, since more species of blueberries are native to North America than any other continent.
With flavors that range from mildly sweet (cultivated) to tart and tangy (wild), blueberries are nutritional stars bursting with nutrition and flavor while being very low in calories.
Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath (Ericaceae) family whose other members include the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel, and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy “bloom” that covers the berry’s surface and serves as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds.
In the realm of health cuisine it’s hard to keep up with the latest super-food craze’s. Every time you turn on your computer there is another exotic berry topping the list of antioxidant-rich foods and life-saving nutritional powerhouses. All too often these foods are derived from far away places, deep within jungles, and therefore dried, frozen or otherwise altered to improve shelf-life and make transportation possible. Blueberries, on the other hand, are readily available and accessible to the masses in North America.
Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, flavonoids and phenols, such as chlorogenic acid, quercetin, lutein and kaempferol. These are anti-inflammatories and antioxidants which strengthen the body’s defenses against free radicals.
Research shows that blueberries can reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C, which is important for strengthening the immune system. And finally they are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help improve the health of your bowl and keep cholesterol levels in check