Born To Be Wild & Berry Good
Northern "low bush" blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) - Wild Blueberries a deciduous shrub with delicious fruit
July was proclaimed National Blueberry Month by the United States Department of Agriculture back in 1999. The blueberry is divided into two major species: wild blueberries are called "low bush" and the farmed blueberries are "high bush". Both types of blueberry have received a great deal of favorable attention from scientists over the past several years. However fresh wild berries are at their best from June until August when the harvest season begins in Michigan and Maine and have higher antioxidant properties.
Early settlers used blueberries in soups, stews and more and the Native Americans taught the pilgrims to use blueberries in many ways. They were dried in the sun and ground into a powder. The powder was used to make a pudding and it was used to season meat as a “spice rub.” The leaves from the blueberry bush were used to make a blood purifier that was good for the kidneys, and blueberry juice was supposed to be good for coughs. These early inhabitants were the first to burn their Wild Blueberry barrens to encourage the growth of new plants. Centuries later, settlers arriving in the New World were given some of these ready-made barrens and taught the many uses of Wild Blueberries.
Nowadays, fresh blueberries with their bloomy deep blue color and rich foliage are readily available in the markets all around the year due to imports from across the continents. I prefer taking a trip to the farmers market to harvest the best of summer's fresh flavors and to savor summer's bounty of freshly picked fruits and vegetables. The best produce is often found right at the opening of the markets where you will find peak produce. If you are shopping in the stores, look for fresh berries that are firm, plump, smooth-skinned, with a silver-gray surface bloom. Buy deep purple-blue to blue-black berries. Avoid soft or shriveled, over-handled bruises berries and those with signs of mold and of old stock.
You know that blueberries are good for you so start reaping the multiple benefits of this little powerhouse today. Blueberries are rich in fiber as well as vitamins A and C, while low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of antioxidants. No matter what form blueberries take in your diet, their many vitamins and nutrients can be good for your skin and body. Eat them raw, add to a smoothie or use dried to make tea but get them now while they are in peak season!
Antioxidant Power Player
Blueberries contain many health benefits, they help combat disease and fight aging, lower blood pressure, protect the heart and brain, help fight off urinary tract infections (the flavonoids prevent bacteria that cause urinary infections from binding to the lining of the bladder and can even inhibit the growth of bacteria),and even increase your memory. The color of blueberries, from deep blue to purple, is caused by a group of flavonoids called anthocyanins, which give the blueberry its remarkable antioxidant power and nutritional, skincare and healing benefits.
Anthocyanins and the phytochemicals found in blueberries protect and help to neutralize free radicals-unstable oxygen molecules, introduced into your body by exposure to cigarette smoke, toxins and pesticides, which can lead to oxidative stress that damage skin cells and encourage premature aging. Oxidative stress increases with high fat and carbohydrate meals and with exposure to environmental toxins. Blueberries prevent aging by providing you with many needed nutrients while providing very low levels of fat and cholesterol.
Proanthocyanidins often referred to as condensed tannins, supply the astringent flavor to blueberries. They support the immune system with free-radical-scavenging properties that help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, blood clotting, and cancer.
The Vitamin C & K in blueberries can help to strengthen the blood vessels just below the surface of your skin and increase circulatory health. The stronger your capillaries, the more resistance they are to breaking.
Rich in Fiber and fiber plays a prominent role in the regulation of your digestive system and bowels. By ensuring proper digestion and regular bowel movements the body ensures timely removal of waste and toxins. Avoiding different types of diseases and disorders in the body such as constipation, diarrhea, frequent headaches, extreme fatigue, skin diseases. Fiber also absorbs some of the fat and cholesterol you get from food, leaving less to affect the health of your skin.
Vitamin A found in blueberries may neutralize or normalize oil levels in your skin, making it healthier and less likely to accumulate sebum, therefore can be helpful with oil and acne prone skin conditions.
Manganese is 25 percent of the adequate intake level for manganese in a single cup, blueberries are an excellent source of this vital nutrient. *The Linus Pauling Institute states that low levels of manganese may be associated with osteoporosis, epilepsy and diabetes.
Wild blueberries are considered nature's antioxidant superfruit- they have thrived under harsh growing conditions for over 10,000 years. One of North America’s native berries, the wild ones are never cultivated or planted. Yet they survive in the glacial soils and northern climate of Maine and Canada thanks to their high concentration of the flavonoid anthocyanin. In fact, Wild Blueberries have a higher anthocyanin content than ordinary cultivated blueberries. So when you eat Wild Blueberries, you gain the extra antioxidant protection of a hardy, wild fruit.
The health benefits of blueberries seem almost endless. Even though just about everyone knows that there is important nutrition in blueberries very few people really understand how valuable they are to a healthy immune system. If you are just discovering these power players I hope you will enjoy all the benefits this season and beyond.
Until Next Time,