In the United States, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon are most known for their blueberries. Berries can be bought fresh, frozen, and canned. Blueberries are low in fat, and are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
The berries can be used in so many things from pies and muffins (the most common), to breakfast items like pancakes and waffles, as syrups (for the breakfast foods or as a dessert topping), and even combined with savory foods.
Blueberries are high in vitamin C, a strong antioxidant offering support for the immune system. Blueberries also contain fiber, folate, iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
The main reason blueberries have been getting so much press lately is because the ongoing research on phytochemicals reveals blueberries top the list in antioxidant rich foods. Research is showing blueberries to be good for the brain, too. Animal research using blueberry extract found it improved balance, coordination and memory – even in cases of Alzheimer’s.
Further studies have shown that “blueberries have a rejuvenating effect on memory-related nerve function, including the stimulation of new memory cells to form.” I could go on – studies have found that blueberries have preventative effects on prostate cancer and liver cancer; they contain compounds that stop UTI’s and there are claims they help with treating hypoglycemia, tinnitus, intestinal upset, eye disorders and varicose veins.
Impressive, no? But I haven’t even mentioned what makes blueberries truly, truly miraculous: they taste good. Usually if you want all your vitamins and cancer fighting chemicals, you’re in the culinary neighborhood of kale, brussels sprouts, ground flax or oil of oregano. But with blueberries, you get to be virtuous and healthy and you actually want to eat them.
Carol Schimmer is a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager with Providence Medical Center.
Baby spinach salad with blueberries and walnuts
1 pound baby spinach leaves
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
In a medium bowl, toss together baby spinach, red onion and chopped walnuts. Add blueberries and feta cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over salad and toss gently to coat.