Blueberries are the fruit of the Vaccinium corymbosum plant, this highly branched bush with vibrant green foliage is a deciduous shrub that grows roughly 10-12 feet in height and is commercially grown in orchards. Commercial cultivation is required as blueberries are the second most popular berry in the US after strawberries.
Many of Americas berries are grown on 60,000 acres of fields in the New England region of Maine. The world famous fields of Maine’s wild blueberries stretch as far as the eye can see, from the east coast to the south west corner, and are grown naturally with little input from the farmer because they are by their very nature a low maintenance crop.
Maine has come into the fortunate position of being the biggest producer of this wonderfully healthy crop because of its cold winter conditions, needed to allow the plant to regenerate over the winter months. The soil conditions are ideal too with acidic soils that blueberry bushes love, the soil is relatively poor quality which means the bushes only fruit once every two years, After fruiting the bushes are cut down to the ground and left to grow vegetation only, for the next year. The plants are then allowed to grow to full maturity and fruit in the second year, completing the two year growing cycle.
The beautifully rich blue purple berries are rich in flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins, which give the berries their deep purple colour.
The combination of antioxidant compounds beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin together with the poly phenolic anthocyanidin compounds such, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, myricetin, tannins, and kaempferol make these blue beauties a sure fire winner on the antioxidant orac factor scale, achieving a score of 5562.
Antioxidants play a vital role in fighting degenerative diseases and cancers, their role in disease prevention is also well documented and studied, therefore, we cannot overstate the importance of getting enough brightly coloured fruits, like blueberries, in your diet. I eat lots of blueberries and like to add these to my smoothies and salads. My fridge is always a not so safe hiding place for these life giving, anti ageing, must have berries that I like to eat raw or add to juice. Many people cook blueberries,adding them to muffins and cakes, personally I don’t because cooking any food ruins the nutrient content and destroys the antioxidant compounds we treasure so dearly.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are vital to good health and although blueberries do contain these substances they are not hugely rich in them? The main benefit of blueberries is the huge antioxidant profile as described earlier and is good enough reason alone to eat these colourful berries alone. Other good reasons to eat these summer favourites are the high levels of manganese which is used as a co factor for the production of the anti oxidant, super oxide dimutase. Decent levels of potassium are provided by blue berries too and this help keep the water in our cells where it should be.
Boosting the essential but often difficult to obtain trace metal copper is vital to looking good and staying young. Copper is essential to make red blood cells and more importantly from a beauty angle is its role in the manufacture of collagen. We all know collagen is a vital ingredient in skin care products and keeps our skin looking young and healthy so stock up on your copper and lets look pretty while we stuff our faces with antioxidants wonder fruits.
Combine blueberries with other fruits and you’ll have a real solid boot and braces approach to looking young, staying healthy and preventing early onset conditions that can diminish the quality of your life experience.
ORAC value 5562
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