Blueberries: Deliciously Healthy
By Gretchen Hein
Blueberry season is right around the corner here in north Florida. We are fortunate that there are a number of local producers who provide us with organic blueberries. They’re easy to grow and can be found in yards around town. What you may not know is that in addition to being delicious, blueberries are good for you.
Rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin, blueberries also contain vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, and are high in fiber. When compared with other fresh fruits, blueberries rank “numero uno” with regards to antioxidants, helping to neutralize the harmful by-products of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other diseases.
Blueberries are said to help reduce “bad” cholesterol and they have slowed age-related loss in mental capacity in mice. They have been known to help promote urinary tract health and there is laboratory evidence that suggests they may lower triglycerides.
Fruits of a shrub that belongs to the heath family (also includes cranberry, bilberry, azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron) blueberries grow in clusters, range in size and color, and feature a protective white-gray wax that covers the surface. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds. All blueberries belong to the genus Vaccinium and are often known by the common names of highbush, which represents 57 percent of the total North American blueberry production and lowbush, which is the wild variety.