The more blueberries are researched, the more we can see that they have good nutrition to offer. Blueberries contain significant amounts of anthocyanadins, antioxidant compounds that produce blues, purples and reds in fruits and vegetables. Blueberries contain ellagic acid, another phytochemical that protects cells from damage. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, E, manganese and fiber. The vaccinum (the Latin name for the family) group, which includes blueberries and cranberries, may help to prevent urinary tract infection and cancer. In 1999, the NIH endorsed research showing blueberries to be effective in reducing the effects of age on the neural tissue.
Fresh Whole Blueberries
In the summer, blueberries can be found fresh and are relatively inexpensive. Eating fresh blueberries provides fiber, water content, and more vitamin C and potassium than preserved berries. At less fewer 90 calories per cup, fresh blueberries are a good low-calorie snack or addition to cereals, breads and salads. They have a low glycemic index compared to most fruits. Fresh blueberries are also a great snack for children, since they are sweet, small and portable, and require nothing more than a good wash to prepare them. Because of the high amount of pectin (a complex carbohydrate and natural thickening agent) in them, blueberries are excellent for jams, jellies and sauces.
If you find fresh blueberries in great supply when they are cheap, buy extra and freeze them on trays, then bag them in airtight plastic. Or buy pre-frozen blueberries in the frozen fruit section and use them in baked goods, sauces and morning or dessert smoothies. Freezing does not significantly change the nutrition of blueberries, except for reducing the 14g of vitamin C per cup to 3g, and the potassium from 144 to 84g per cup. In some cases, such as the amount of fiber (which goes from 3 to 4g per cup) and the amount of calcium (increasing from 9 to 12g per cup), freezing improves the per-cup nutrition because the water content is lessened. Frozen blueberries are just as tasty as fresh ones, and can be bought year-round.
Rather expensive, but worth their weight in nutritional gold, dried blueberries are an excellent source of fiber, complex carbs and antioxidants. Dried berries are great for camping and hiking, and can be used in granolas, biscotti and hot cereals, or simply carried along in a backpack for a quick and healthy snack. While freezing can destroy some vitamin content, drying does so as well, practically eliminating most of the vitamin C and E, but concentrating the minerals such as calcium, and the fiber, by taking almost all of the water out. Studies show, however, that the highly rated antioxidant properties of blueberries are largely retained by most drying methods. And while wild berries in any form may have slightly higher values for nutritionals, conventionally farmed berries are still higher in antioxidants, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals than other fruits.