By Chelsea Fyrberg
If you live in North America, you probably know that fresh blueberries are anything but hard to come by during the summer months. That’s because this unique blue fruit ranks as the second most popular berry in the US, falling right behind strawberries. Whether you choose to munch on nature’s juicy finger food or incorporate them into a recipe, blueberries are sure to please the whole family.
Blueberries are one of the four major fruits native to North America. They exist in three varieties: lowbush, highbush, and rabbiteye. Noticeably different in size and taste, wild lowbush blueberries are small and tart, while cultivated highbush are plump and sweet. Whichever variety you prefer, blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep well for up to a week. Fresh blueberries should be washed just prior to use and gently patted dry. You can opt to enjoy them fresh or freeze them for later use.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), blueberries surpass most fruits when it comes to their antioxidant levels. These antioxidants will work to fight off cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. But if you really want to optimize the antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic! Organically grown blueberries have significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries.
One serving of blueberries weighs in at a mere 80 calories, yet provides almost 25 percent of our daily vitamin C requirement. Famed in North America as “brain food”, studies have shown blueberries help to enhance memory and delay the onset of early aging. All the while, in Japan blueberries are dubbed “vision fruit” due to studies suggesting they may prevent macular degeneration. Regardless of what you choose to call them, consuming blueberries regularly has been shown to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar, and grant us with anti-cancer benefits. These petite berries just go to show big things really can come in small packages!