Blueberries are a perennial flowering shrub

By: Taylor

Blueberries are a perennial flowering shrub plant which is native to North America. The blueberry shrub produces a berry fruit by the same name which is anywhere from 5-16 millimeters in diameter with a flared crown at the end. As the berry grows to a ripened state it begins as a pale green and changes to a reddish-purple and finally – when ripe – a dark blue color. The shrubs will bear fruit in the middle of the growing season. Because growing season is affected by the altitude and latitude, the crop times will vary across the North American continent.

Blueberries belong to the same plant family as cranberries and bilberries and contain a rich amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants aid in slowing down the aging process as well as lessen cell damage which can lead to cancer.

The American Diabetes Association has named blueberries as a ‘diabetes super food’. Blueberries are packed with fiber, antioxidant vitamins and other nutrients which provide several key benefits for diabetics.

Culinary Uses of Blueberries

Blueberries have a wide range of uses and can be consumed both in their raw state or cooked. For example, you may add blueberries to your morning cereal or to a salad for a boost of sweet and added nutrition or if you choose to, you can make jams, jelly or preserves. Drinks can be made from blueberries in a number of different fashions; smoothies, shakes and frostys to name a few. Deserts with blueberries can lead you down a number of paths, from hot to cold. Bake blueberries into a pie or cobbler or use as the basis for a sorbet. Using the word blueberry cheesecake should bring a smile to almost anyone’s face.

Health benefits of Blueberries

Build a strong immune system: It is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, anthocyanin, copper and iron. These antioxidants help to build a strong immune system by preventing infection. Iron helps to increase immunity by increasing hemoglobin and oxygen levels in the blood.
Slow the process of ageing: The antioxidant levels in the blueberry fruit has been shown to slow the aging process and assists in neutralizing free radicals. It is the presence of anthocyanin that gives the blueberry color.
Diabetic Control and Weight Loss: the American Diabetes Association has performed studies which show that the low caloric count and high nutrients in blueberries is helpful in reducing weight, especially belly fat, and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Promote urinary health: Blueberries have a compound formed of big polymer like heavy molecules which helps in the prevention of bacteria that causes urinary problems like inflammation and burning sensations during urination.
Improve vision: The presence of anthocyanosides in blueberries helps to slow down the process of vision loss, protects the eyes from diseases which occur with age – such as; cataract, myopia, hypermetropia, muscular degeneration, dryness and retinal infections.
Brain Health: The blueberry is considered a ‘brain food’. With its high nutrient, vitamin and mineral content, the blueberry helps to prevent the degeneration and death of neurons and brain cells. It assists in memory and logical thinking and tests are being conducted to determine if the blueberry may be an active agent in a possible future cure or prevention for Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy heart: Blueberries contain high fiber, antioxidants and have the ability to dissolve bad cholesterol. This helps in maintaining a healthy heart as well as strengthens the cardiac muscles.
Improve digestion: The fiber content in blueberries helps to improve digestion, relives constipation and promotes healthy bowel movements.
Cancer: Research is underway which suggests that the presence of Pterostilbene and Ellagic Acid compounds in combination with antioxidants found naturally in blueberries may act as a preventative in colon and liver cancer. If the current study on animals translates to humans.
Anti-Depressant: The National Institute of Health conducted a study and found that the anthocyanins found in blueberries, naturally inhibit key enzymes which are the cause for anxiety and depression.

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