|Research on Your Plate|
“Gettin’ the Blues” for Health
Sweet and juicy, fresh blueberries are summer favorites for both adults and children. Delicious eaten fresh, cooked or mixed with other fruit, these berries’ vibrant color and versatility make them a staple in many cereal bowls, salads and desserts. Blueberries are also a nutrient-dense food – high in fiber, vitamins C and K, with only 40 calories in a one-half cup serving.
|Nutrient||Amount per 1/2 cup serving||% Recommended Daily Value|
AICR’s expert report reaffirms that eating a variety of fruits is probably protective against several kinds of cancer including stomach and lung cancers.
Including blueberries as part of a healthy, plant based diet may be a tasty way to lower cancer risk.
The Rock Star Fruit
Blueberries have a rock star reputation among fruits because they contain high levels of phytochemicals, particularly anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are also a pigment and are responsible for the berries’ intense blue color.
North American Indians, the Chinese and the Europeans used this powerful substance in their traditional herbal medicines. These medicines, typically derived from dried leaves, fruits, roots and seeds, contained anthocyanins naturally present in the plant.
Today, researchers report that anthocyanins likely play a role in
- inhibiting inflammation and tumor growth
- counteracting oxidation, a process that can damage healthy cells
- reducing risk for other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
While scientists agree that eating foods rich in anthocyanins may play a role in preventing lifestyle-related diseases, they do not yet know whether it is specific phytochemicals or the interactions of all the food components that provide the health benefits seen in foods such as berries and other fruits.
Fortunately we don’t need to wait for all the answers to know that, in addition to the cancer preventing benefits of consuming more fruits and vegetables, blueberries add vital nutrients, color, sweetness and flavor to your plate.
Finding Fresh Berries
Blueberries can grow in many regions of the United States, but most cultivated varieties are grown in Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, California, and the Northwest. Wild blueberries, also known as lowbush blueberries, are abundant in Maine and Eastern Canada.
Look for pick-your-own blueberry patches in your area. Picking your own can be a fun and educational summer activity for children and families. Children will have the opportunity to learn where their food comes from and be able to taste the fruit freshly harvested. At home, children can help with preparing dishes that contain the blueberries. To find a farm near you visit PickYourOwn.org.
Frozen blueberries are an economical way to enjoy the taste and nutrition of this fruit all year long.
For recipes containing blueberries, visit the AICR Recipe Corner.
Did you know…
Many of the phytochemicals that provide health benefits for humans are also important to the plant’s survival:
- Anthocyanins help attract pollinators such as bees
- Resveratrol, found in grapes, is an antifungal agent in the plant
- Terpenes in cherries act as pest repellants
All active news articles