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B Is for Blueberry, Blueberry Is for Brain

blueberries benefits

Blueberries are another one of nature’s nutritional wonders, and thought by some experts to benefit brain function. Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanins, a powerful phytochemical and antioxidant. Anthocyanins are a member of the flavonoid family. They give the blueberry it’s deep purple blue color.

Studies conducted by Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D, at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University, ranked blueberries number one in antioxidant activity when compared with 40 other commercially available fruits and vegetables. “One-half cup of blueberries delivers as much antioxidant power as five servings of other fruits and vegetables — such as peas, carrots, apples, squash and broccoli,” says Prior.” [1]

There are many ways to bring blueberries into your family’s diet. Fresh or dried blueberries can be added to baked goods like muffins, scones, and breads. Sprinkling these breakfast favorites in your pancake and waffle batter, or just on top not only adds flavor but boosts the nutritional value of what otherwise might be a simple carbohydrate meal.

Dried or fresh blueberries are a tasty snack eaten alone or sprinkled in cold cereals, oatmeal, fruit salads and green salads. Consider filling a small ziplock with dried blueberries and your child’s favorite nuts for a nutritious after school or anytime snack.

For a tasty dessert, serve mango sorbet or vanilla non-fat yogurt topped with fresh blueberries. These are non-fat desserts that deliver a big burst of flavor after a meal.

Frozen blueberries are another way to increase the level of these powerful phytochemicals in your family’s diet. Frozen blueberries can be used in place of fresh berries in many of the same recipes except when being showcased in a fruit or green salad. Keep in mind that frozen berries contain more moisture than fresh or frozen berries and their delicate skin softens and sometimes tears after being frozen. However, this additional moisture works beautifully in most baked goods. Frozen blueberries are a perfect match with fresh or frozen mango chunks for smoothies. Mix frozen blueberries with mango chunks and orange juice and blend. This combination is sure to please the palates of most kids. Smoothie mixtures can also be frozen in popsicle molds for a nutritious dessert or snack. Add your favorite protein powder and flax oil to the mix and they become a mini meal. Now you can say yes to popsicles for breakfast!

When fresh blueberries are out of season, frozen and dried blueberries are an easy way to keep them in the forefront of your family’s diet. Experiment and enjoy!

[1] Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 44:701-705; 3426-3431, 1996; 46:2686-2693, 1998