Summer means…. Blueberries!!! Packed with nutrients to improve brain function and love on your pancakes!

Blueberries
ashley-vangel

By: Ashley Vangel

Ah, blueberries. They’re one of my favorite things about summer! You can’t beat the taste of fresh, ripe blueberries!
 

I try to go blueberry picking every summer. For those of you who haven’t gone blueberry picking, let me tell you… it takes a really long time to get a good amount, but it’s totally worth it in the end… It usually takes me about an hour to pick the amount of blueberries I feel satisfied with! Then I go home and think about all foods I can make and use with my blueberries! You can make blueberry pie, muffins and pancakes. Try topping a salad with some blueberries for a fresh, summery addition. I’ve even had a pizza recently with blueberries as a topping and it was absolutely delicious. Add frozen blueberries to a delicious berry smoothie!
 

Not only are blueberries out-of-this-world-delicious, they’re also one of the healthiest foods in the world. They’re even often labeled a “superfood”. First of all, they have a high water content, meaning that for a lot of volume, they offer very few calories. One cup of blueberries contains just 84 calories. They are also super nutrient-dense. That one cup serving of blueberries also offers 4 grams of fiber, 24% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, 36% of the RDA for vitamin K, and 25% of the RDA for manganese.
 

Blueberries are top-of-the-line when it comes to antioxidant-rich foods. They are thought to contain the highest antioxidant content of all commonly consumed fruits and veggies. The main antioxidants found in blueberries are called flavonoids. Anthocyanins, in particular, are the group of flavonoids that are thought to be responsible for many health benefits. Their high antioxidant content can help neutralize some free radicals that cause damage to our body’s DNA. The antioxidants in blueberries are also strongly associated with reduced levels of oxidized LDL (the “bad cholesterol” in our blood), which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. One study showed that a daily serving of 50 grams of blueberries lowered LDL oxidation by 27% in obese participants after 8 weeks. Eating 50 grams of blueberry per day for 8 weeks also proved to reduce blood pressure by 4-6% in participants who were at high risk for heart disease. I’d definitely say that blueberries are a heart healthy food!
 

Ever feel like your memory has got some room for improvement? Or am I alone on this one… Well, if you’re like me, you should try to eat more blueberries! The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to help improve brain function and delay age-related decline. Studies also show that the antioxidants in blueberries tend to build up in the areas of the brain that are essential for intelligence
 

Overall, blueberries are incredibly healthy. If you don’t already include them in your diet, now is definitely the time to do it! They’re in-season and super tasty. Not only are they a sweet and colorful addition to meals and desserts, you can eat them by themselves as a tasty snack too! Try them fresh or frozen for the most nutritional bang-for-your-buck.

Leave a comment below with your favorite way to eat blueberries!
 

Ashley is a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian in the state of Texas. She graduated from Framingham State University, majoring in nutrition and dietetics and she completed her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut. (more)

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