Blueberries Provide an Energy Boost and Health Benefits
If you’ve been feeling bushed or exhausted lately, a handful of blueberries may be all you need to enjoy a quick energy boost that’ll put you back on your feet. This small bluish-purple fruit is also loaded with nutrients, and is quite versatile as ad additive to foods and recipes you’ll learn to love. Here’s a closer look at the unique qualities of blueberries in maintaining a healthy diet and better overall wellness.
What Is a Blueberry Anyway?
Blueberry fruit consists of a tiny round berry with a crown-like flare at the end of its core. As blueberries mature, they change in color from a pale green to reddish-purple, and finally a deep purplish-blue when they’re ripe and ready to be harvested. Blueberries also have a whitish-gray 'bloom' that covers the surface of the berry to serve as a protective coating. Blueberries are deliciously sweet and juicy when ripe, and their peak season ranges in different areas between May and October.
Blueberries are native to the United States and are generally found in parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. In turn, these native North American species of blueberries are now being commercially grown in the Southern Hemisphere as well, particularly in regions of New Zealand, South America, and Australia.
One of several other plants from the same family is the European bilberry, which translates to ‘blueberry’ in many languages. This group of plant species all produce blue-colored berries similar to blueberries.
Blueberries are similar to acaí berries in that they contain powerful antioxidants and nutrients. These helpful antioxidants play a pivotal role in reducing the risk of certain cancers and inflammatory diseases. Specifically, blueberries also contain pterostilbene, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and resveratrol, all which inhibit the cell development of cancers. When it comes to nutrients, blueberries have you covered there as well, being a good source of manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin E; they are also low in calories, which means you can have as many as you want.
Numerous studies suggest that blueberry consumption lowers total blood lipid levels and cholesterol, thereby reducing the risks of high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, it is believed that a diet rich in blueberries enhances short-term memory in older adults while reducing symptoms of depression.
Two types of blueberry bushes exist; they are called lowbush and highbush. Lowbush blueberries are considered wild, while highbush blueberries are grown in controlled environments.
In North America, Maine is the single largest producer of lowbush blueberries in the world, having more than 60,000 acres. To the west, Michigan is known as the world's largest producer of highbush blueberries, producing more than 220,000 tons of them each year.
Blueberries require cross-pollination to grow, such that a collection of 50,000 or more beehives may be needed to pollinate the blossoms. In some cases, these hives are shipped from other regions for the specific purpose of cross-pollinating blueberries in high producing areas.
Blueberries have a sweet, crunchy taste that pops in your mouth when you bite into them. They contribute a rich, dark reddish-purple to the foods you eat with them, like cereal, smoothies, pancakes, yogurt, and even ice cream. Blueberries are also incorporated into some breads and desserts, as well as jellies, jams, and wines.
Fresh blueberries are packaged and stored easily and keep well in the refrigerator. You can even freeze fresh blueberries by putting them on a baking sheet in a single layer and popping them into the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can pour them into a plastic freezer container. This makes it easy to shake out the amount you need and let them thaw for your next meal that includes blueberries.
You really can't beat the nutritional value of blueberries, no matter how you choose to eat them. You might want to try planting a few bushes in your own garden at home, or pick wild blueberries from a local landowner or farmer. You’ll want to ask permission, of course, since the evidence on your hands from the reddish-purple berries will be enough for them to know where you’ve been.