The Tiny, Incredible,
Edible Blueberry

By R. Alan Clanton, Thursday Review editor

There are lots of easy and tasty ways to improve your health through simply diet changes. Reducing red meat, limiting your intake of trans fats and lowering your cholesterol consumption all constitute an excellent start. But based on decades of studies, many doctors recommend that Americans eat more fresh vegetables and fruits.

Want a simple and delicious way to introduce fruit into your diet? Try the modest blueberry. Blueberries are one of nature’s miracle foods—high in Vitamins, high in fiber content and rich in antioxidants, a sort of triple play of benefits. Plus blueberries have no fat, and only 15 grams of sugar.

Blueberries—like cranberries—have been shown in a variety of studies to improve urinary tract functions, as well as speed recovery from UTI’s. Doctors believe that blueberries contain the right combination of antioxidant compounds whose natural ability to attack bacteria in the urinary tract make them ideal for such infections. In many cases, blueberries can speed recovery and reduce the symptoms. And for those who find cranberries (or cranberry juice) too tart, blueberries offer a much kinder, gentle dose of the same great benefits.

Like many fresh veggie and fruits, blueberries may be instrumental in reducing cancer risk, especially internal cancers—stomach, colon, liver. The anthocyanins which create the blue coloring blueberries are believed to be effective at attacking cancer-causing free radicals. Some academic studies indicate a relationship between these same compounds and the inhibition of tumor cells. Blueberries, for all their rich flavor, are extremely high in fiber, and are therefore a delicious and simple way to reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Furthermore, some studies—including those conducted by the USDA—indicate that blueberries may contain compounds which help control memory loss. Studies conducted by the University of Cincinnati seemed to indicate that adults who consumed a higher-than-average number of blueberries or blueberry juice performed better on memory tests.

But blueberries are especially helpful when it comes to stocking up on Vitamin C, an all-around great supplement for the human body. Vitamin C is valuable to the body by helping to ward off common problems like colds and flus, and some studies indicate that the benefits of Vitamin C reach much wider—reducing the risk of cataracts and glaucoma, promoting tendon and tissue repair, and even inhibiting the development of certain cancers through its antioxidant quality.

A single serving of blueberries contain up to 24% of all the Vitamin C generally recommended for a 2000 calorie diet.

Finally, blueberries (and other berries as well) have been shown to be especially helpful in reduction of heart disease and stroke, especially in women. Studies indicate that the anthocyanins—which are in the family of flavonoids—may serve to reduce arterial plaque and even break-down plaque build-up.

Like most fruits and many veggies, blueberries can be eaten chilled as a snack or added to other nutritious foods. They make an excellent topping on low fat desserts and an easy way to dress up a bowl of cereal or oatmeal in the morning.

So remember the modest blueberry the next time you are at the market looking for ways to upgrade your diet, boost your immune system, and add a little color to your meal or snack.

Sources used for ths article: Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health; WebMD; U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Related Thursday Review articles:

The Health Magic of Berries ; Maggie Nichols; Thursday Review.

Mr. Scoville and the Red Hot Peppers ; Earl Perkins; Thursday Review.