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Published on July 19, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeri HughesMarketing & Community RelationsEssentia Health(218) 828-7583
By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.
July is National Blueberry Month, and this dark blue gem is worth celebrating.
Blueberries are packed with nutrition. Their deep, rich color signals that they are high in antioxidants, which have the potential to reduce the risk of many illnesses and diseases caused by oxidative stress in our bodies.
Blueberries and other berries offer powerful protection against cancer, according to Colleen Doyle, the managing director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society. Phytonutrients in blueberries counteract, reduce and repair damage to our cells from daily life.
Research has shown that the phytonutrients in blueberries may help improve memory and cognitive function. Blueberries have also been shown to improve heart health, blood sugar regulation and eye health.
Blueberries also are a good source of vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Manganese is a trace mineral found in small amounts in our bodies that helps form connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors and sex hormones. Manganese plays a role in metabolizing fats and carbohydrates, absorbing calcium and regulating blood sugar. The mineral is necessary for normal brain and nerve function.
The blueberry is native to North America and has been part of the traditional food culture of Native Americans. Today, blueberries grow wild and are cultivated. The most common cultivated species is the northern high-bush blueberry and its berries are usually grown to be sold fresh in markets. The wild blueberry is usually a low-bush plant. "Wild" has been adopted as a marketing term for harvests of managed native stands of low-bush blueberries.
More than 90 percent of wild blueberries are frozen because they have fragile, smaller berries and need to be handled quickly and carefully. Freezing blueberries preserves their nutritional benefits. Blueberries have a natural protective coating that keeps them from spoiling so don't rinse berries until you are ready to eat or freeze them.
Wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries are both superstars. Wild blueberries have more zinc and fiber. Cup for cup, there would be more wild berries because they are much smaller and so that cup would yield more fiber and antioxidants. Cultivated blueberries are higher in vitamin C and vitamin E and are lower in calories.
We are fortunate in Minnesota and Wisconsin to have local farmers who grow blueberries. You can even find farms where you can pick your own in late July and early August. Go to www.pickyourown.org to find a farm.
July even brings blueberry festivals in the Northland. Iron River, Wisconsin, celebrates blueberries on July 22-23 while Ely, Minnesota, celebrates July 28-30.
Blueberries are often featured in desserts and sweets such as blueberry muffins and blueberry pie. The added sugar may negate their health benefits.
This summer, stretch your taste buds and try blueberries in other ways. A simple, easy desserts is a Red White and Blue parfait. Try a chicken salad that adds these superstars to a main dish. Whip up some blueberry lime salsa for a great snack with chips or pair it with grilled chicken or grilled salmon.
Red, White and Blue Parfait
1/3 cup fresh blueberries3 large fresh strawberries3 tablespoons low-fat vanilla yogurt1 tablespoon granola
Wash blueberries and strawberries; remove all stems. Cut strawberries into smaller pieces. Layer half the strawberries in a small glass, top with 3 tablespoons blueberries then 11/2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt. Repeat layers. Top with granola.
Nutrition FactsServings: 1Calories: 90Total fat: 1 gramSaturated fat: 0 gramsTrans fat: 0 gramsCholesterol: 5 milligramsSodium: 10 milligramsCarbohydrates: 18 gramsFiber: 3 gramsProtein: 2 grams
Blueberry Chicken Salad
2 cups fresh blueberries2 cups fresh chicken breast (about 1 pound), cooked and cubed1/2 cup celery, chopped1/2 cup fresh red pepper, chopped1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced5-ounce container of lemon Greek yogurt3 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise1 tablespoon olive oil1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme2 tablespoons fresh parsley, choppedLeaf lettuce
Wash blueberries and set aside 1/4cup to be used for garnish. In a large bowl, combine chicken, celery, red pepper, onions and remaining blueberries. In a small bowl, mix yogurt, mayonnaise, olive oil and thyme. Add dressing mixture to chicken mixture. Gently toss to coat. Add in parsley. May be served on a lettuce leaf and topped with blueberries.
Nutrition FactsServings: 4Serving size: 11/4 cupCalories: 275Total fat: 8 gramsSaturated fat: 1 gramTrans fat: 0 gramsCholesterol: 1 milligramSodium: 65 milligramsPotassium: 270 milligramsCarbohydrates: 20 gramsFiber: 3 gramsProtein: 39 grams
Blueberry Lime Salsa
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed5 medium strawberries, stems removed1/4 cup red onion, diced1 teaspoon lime zest2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves1/2 avocado, chopped
Combine blueberries, strawberries, onion, lime zest, juice and cilantro in a food processor or blender. Pulse to the consistency that you like. Scrape salsa into a bowl and fold in chopped avocado. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips or grilled chicken or fish.
Nutrition FactsServings: 12Serving size: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 20Total fat: 1 gramSaturated fat: 0 gramsTrans fat: 0 gramsCholesterol: 0 milligramsSodium: 15 milligramsPotassium: 60 milligramsCarbohydrates: 3 gramsFiber: 1 gramProtein: 0 grams