Amazing Benefits of Blueberries

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superfoodGlance at any list of the top super foods, and you’re sure to find blueberries. In fact, they’re very possibly THE ULTIMATE super food. Some nutritionists believe that if there is any change you should make to your diet, it should be to add blueberries, if you’re not already eating them that is. Why? These little anti-oxidant delights have an endless list of health benefits, making them completely nutritious, and incredibly delicious.

Health Benefits

The most notable health benefit of blueberries is the amount of antioxidants they pack. While you may not be able to tell due to their small size, just 100 grams of blueberries contain the same amount of antioxidants as five servings of most other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants provide many important health benefits. They are age-defying, and help guard against varying cancers, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, cataracts, Alzheimer’s and many other age-related neurological diseases. After years of research, there is even exciting new evidence that blueberries can actually improve memory.

Blueberries are also very high in vitamin C, and an excellent source of fiber. They actually contain a compound, pterostilbene, which protects the heart in the same way cholesterol-lowering drugs do. The only difference is they’re all natural. Resveratrol is found in blueberries, and has an anti-cancer affect. They get their blue color from anthocyanins which they contain.

Blueberries, and berries in general, are also very low on the glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a way of identifying the potential impact of a food on blood sugar levels, once it has been consumed and digested. Foods with a GI of 50 or below are considered low, and blueberries have a glycemic index of around 40. These low glycemic foods have a very favorable impact on blood sugar regulation, which is especially important for anyone with type 2 diabetes. However, not only those suffering from diabetes stand to benefit from this, stable blood sugar levels are important for everyone, diabetes or not.

Beauty Benefits

Believe it or not, blueberries actually may make you better looking, or at least slow the physical effects of aging. Blueberries contain polyphenols, which combat the effect of free radicals. Free radicals are a key cause of wrinkles, so eating blueberries can help keep your skin looking younger, for a longer time. Polyphenols also contribute to collagen production, keeping the skin supple.

Blueberries can also help give you the shiny, commercial-worthy hair you’ve always wanted. Whether through their consumption, or applied to the hair externally with a blueberry enhanced product, blueberries will leave your hair healthier and stronger. Blueberries actually stimulate hair growth. They contain a plant chemical called proanthocyanidins which interacts with hair follicles to accelerate growth.

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Selection and Storage

By now, you should be convinced that blueberries hold an important spot in your diet. So how should you pick these little wonders? When you’re perusing the berry section at your nearest grocery store or market, be sure to choose blueberries that are firm, and have a uniform color with a whitish bloom. Don’t pick blueberries that look wrinkled, or have a slightly gray or dull hue. You can also shake the container that holds the blueberries to see if they rattle around a bit. If the blueberries aren’t moving around freely, they may be either soft, damaged, moldy, or all three. Also make sure that there is no moisture, or water present in the packaging. Water will cause the berries to decay.

Research has shown that berries can be frozen without reducing the health benefits largely. If you’re going for frozen blueberries, also shake the bag around to ensure that the blueberries aren’t in one clump. If the blueberries are clumped together, they may have been thawed and frozen, which is not ideal. If you prefer fresh berries, they are cultivated in the United States from May through October, although they’re pretty much imported all year long.

 Preparation

Fresh berries are fragile, so handle them with care! Simply wash them briefly and pat them dry. Wash the berries right before you use them, as they tend to spoil much quicker if they’ve been exposed to water. If your blueberries are organic, it is not necessary to wash them at all. Blueberries retain more of their nutrients when enjoyed fresh, not cooked. However, their health benefits are not completely lost when cooked.

Fresh berries are very fragile and should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently patted dry if they are not organic. Wash berries just prior to use to not prematurely remove the protective bloom that resides on the skin’s surface. If you know the source of either wild or organic berries try not to wash them at all.

Blueberries are so fresh and sweet, they taste delicious all on their own. If you want to incorporate them into recipes, you can try topping your yogurt with fresh blueberries and granola, or mixing them into a fruit shake. You can even add fresh, or dried, blueberries to your favorite breakfast cereal in place of they typical banana. You can add them to salads for a sweet kick, or bake them into muffins or pies.

Whichever way you choose to eat these little blue beauties, enjoy them, and improve your health at the same time!

To find out more about which foods to eat, and what to avoid like the plague, click here.

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