Blueberries — The Super Food to Eat Now

blueberries

Blueberries: Photo: Deposit Photos

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It’s no surprise blueberries are considered a superfood. They are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and potassium, low in sodium, have no fat, and only 80 calories per cup.

Blueberries are North American natives and have been around for some 13,000 years. In the early 1900s, the first highbush blueberry bush was cultivated, paving the way for almost one billion pounds of the blue gems to be grown annually in North America.

Nearly six million older adults live with dementia in the United States. Here’s the good news. A new study published in Nutrients found that blueberries have cognitive benefits. The research supports the potential for blueberry consumption (the equivalent of a half-cup of fresh blueberries a day) to help middle-aged individuals against cognitive decline.

These findings are significant because blueberries may allow early intervention against cognitive decline by targeting modifiable risks like poor nutrition and related metabolic disturbance.

While further studies are warranted, this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial proves that blueberry supplementation can improve cognitive function and correct high insulin levels in prediabetes patients. This is the first study to look at blueberry supplementation in middle-aged individuals at risk for future health problems and late-life dementia.

Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietitian and member of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s 2022 Blue Crew, which is a group of registered dietitians, physicians, fitness professionals, and wellness and lifestyle experts, shares these blueberry tips:

blueberries

(LEFT) BLUEBERRY PECAN BREAD, (RIGHT) SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY BUNDT CAKE. EXCERPTED FROM BLUEBERRY LOVE (C) BY CYNTHIA GRAUBART, PHOTOGRAPHY (C) BY KELLER + KELLER PHOTOGRAPHY, USED WITH PERMISSION FROM STOREY PUBLISHING.

There are endless ways to enjoy blueberries to add a boost of blue to every day. I encourage my clients to incorporate blueberries into their meals and snacks because blueberries are as natural and straightforward as food can be – no muss, no fuss. Just rinse and go! Here are my top tips for enjoying this delicious fruit.

Grab a boost of blue to liven up any meal or snack. Blueberries taste equally delicious in salads, snacks, entrees, cocktails, or straight from the package.

Swap sweetened yogurts, smoothies, cereals, or oatmeal for unsweetened versions and add blueberries to get all the great taste without the added sugar.

Blueberries are made for pairing; try a handful with nuts, yogurt, granola, peanut or almond butter toast, cheese, or a protein bar for a robust snack or mini-meal.

Pro tip: Fresh blueberries are infinitely snackable and typically last at least ten days in the fridge.

New Cookbook Celebrates The Blueberry

Author Cynthia Graubart, a James Beard Award winner, has studied the blueberry with the results in her new cookbook, Blueberry Love. “These little jewels are prized for their sweet and tangy taste and nutrition,” Graubart said.

“Blueberries contain antioxidants (such as anthocyanin, which gives the berries their beautiful hue) and phytonutrients, which have powerful health benefits. These include the ability to reduce signs of aging, help control blood pressure and diabetes, and possibly improve heart health and lower the risk of cancer,” Graubart said.

Graubart offers many tips and 46 sweet and savory recipes in her book. She tells you what to look for when choosing blueberries, how to store (unwashed!), and how to freeze and dry. She dispels the myth of tossing blueberries in flour, so they don’t sink in the batter. “Toss if that’s the way you were raised, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t.”

We love Graubart’s Blueberry Pecan Bread, “marvelous sliced, toasted, and slathered with butter.” Double the recipe to keep one and give one! Sautéed Pork Tenderloin is quick, easy, and has a delicious tangy flavor with its blueberry balsamic mustard glaze. Try her Sour Cream Blueberry Bundt Cake for a grand finale, a buttery, dense crown jewel with a confectioners’ sugar glaze. Perfect and impressive for a crowd.

Blueberry-Pecan Bread
Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray or grease and flour a 9-by 5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, at least 30 seconds.

Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and the rub butter into the flour using your fingers, or cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender, two knives, or two forks, until the mixture becomes fine crumbs. Toss 1/2 cup of the nuts into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a medium bowl and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture is just combined.

Avoid overmixing. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (avoiding a blueberry).

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Excerpted from Blueberry Love (c) by Cynthia Graubart, photography (c) by Keller + Keller Photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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