Super foods, the ultimate health foods – the benefits of Blueberries

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 26 February 2009.

Super foods, the ultimate health foods – the benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are the nutrition powerhouses of the fruit world. They are not only low in kilojoules but also happen to taste sweet and divine. They make the healthiest snack straight from the container and let you whip up quick desserts with yoghurt or ice-cream.

 

 

Number One for antioxidant, anti-aging activity

Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Centre rank blueberries as number one for antioxidant activity when compared to other fresh fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins - the pigments that gives the berries their blue-red colour - are believed to be responsible for this health benefit. These anthocyanins act as antioxidants and slow down the aging of the brain. They have been shown to boost memory and brain function as we age as well as protect the eyes from cataracts and glaucoma.

Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins have been shown to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve the strength of capillaries and stabilize collagen (the ground substance of all body tissues) and they improve blood circulation and protect the heart.

 

What's in blueberries?

Nutritionally blueberries are in a class of their own. Like other berries, they are all good-to-excellent sources of vitamin C - half a small punnet (75g) supplies 10mg of vitamin C which is 25 per cent of your average daily requirement - and dietary fibre (both insoluble and soluble fibre like pectin) which adds to their super food status.

They also offer beta-carotene (which gets converted in vitamin A once in the body); vitamin E, as well as lesser amounts of a number of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus; and B vitamins such as folate (which helps prevent birth defects in babies) and niacin (which releases energy from food).

A weight loss plus!

All this for very few kilojoules/calories. Half a punnet (75g) supplies a mere 165 kilojoules (39 calories) so makes a guiltless indulgence for anyone concerned about weight-loss or counting fat. And it's low GI. Add a squeeze of orange juice and serve with berry yoghurt or low-fat ice-cream and you have the ideal light dessert, low in kilojoules and light on fat - not to mention absolutely yummy!

 

Nutrition stats

Per serve:

Half a cup or half of a 150g punnet (75g) of fresh blueberries supplies: Trace of protein, trace of fat, 8.3g carbohydrates, 7.7g sugars, less than 1g starch, 1.5g dietary fibre and 165 kilojoules (39 calories).

Per 100 g fresh:

Trace protein, trace of fat, 11% carbohydrate, 10.3% sugars, 0.5% starch, 1.8% dietary fibre and 218 kilojoules (52 calories).

 

Easy ways to enjoy blueberries

  • Eat a handful as a fruity snack or to finish a meal.
  • Sprinkle over yoghurt or ice cream.
  • Fresh or dried blueberries add a tangy colourful flavour hit on breakfast cereals.
  • Add fresh or frozen blueberries to a blender with low-fat milk, yoghurt, a small banana (if you want it really thick) and whirl to make a smoothie.
  • Make a quick mixed berry clafouti - a kind of custardy dessert where fruit (traditionally cherries) is mixed with a batter - using blueberries, egg, flour, milk and a little sugar.

 

Blueberries always on hand

When fresh blueberries are out of season, free-flowing frozen blueberries make a nutritionally-sound substitute. You still get the berries' powerful antioxidants.

Just wild about wild blueberries!

Interestingly studies of wild blueberries (which don't grow in Australia) show they are higher still in antioxidants. So if you're at the supermarket, look out for the frozen mixed berries which contain a mix of regular blueberries, wild blueberries, raspberries and cranberries (brand name Creative Gourmet).

 

More information

Blueberry_muffin_Lizzy

Fresh blueberry muffins

Bake these delicious blueberry muffins made with fresh blueberries from Bizzy Lizzy's food and recipe blog www.bizzylizzysgoodthings.com. Lizzy also describes the delights of picking fresh blueberries from a small farm in the 1980s.