A Guide to the Tiny but Mighty Blueberry

Full of vitamins, antioxidants, and disease-fighting properties, blueberries are an excellent food that can contribute to overall health as part of a well-balanced diet. Blueberries are easily accessible and can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways. Blueberry season only lasts from July to early September, so it is a good idea to grab them before they’re gone!

British Columbia has come to be one of the most productive blueberry-growing regions in the world.  Our clean air, mild climate, and fertile soil provide the perfect growing conditions, producing plump, juicy, and flavourful blueberries. With over 600 growers in BC, the province produces an annual average of 150 million pounds of blueberries (BC Blueberry Council, 2019).

Blueberries are high in four essential nutrients: vitamins C and K, fibre, and manganese. Just a single serving of blueberries can supply you with essential good dose of them, promoting a healthy body and mind (US Highbush Blueberry Council). These nutrients support the immune system, can keep your heart healthy and cholesterol in check, promote bone development, and convert protein, carbs and fat into energy.

We’ve all heard about the importance of antioxidants. Not only do blueberries have essential nutrients, they also get their distinct deep blue-purple colour from a high content of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a pigmented compound that is linked to significant antioxidant activity. Anthocyanins and their antioxidant activity have been found to suppress generation and growth of certain cancer cells, slow metastasis and inflammation in the body (Today’s Dietitian, 2014).

Blueberries can help with brain health too! In animal studies (Journal of Neuroscience, 1999), blueberries were found to help improve short-term memory loss, coordination, and balance. (Today’s Dietitian, 2014). Blueberries also have a remarkable ability to enhance insulin response. Numerous studies found a decrease in blood glucose levels, leading to reduced abdominal fat and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus risk (Advances in Nutrition, 2019). All of these positive qualities in a little blue orb.

Tart and sweet, blueberries are perfect for adding to any recipe to boost not only nutrient content but flavour too. Blueberries can easily be incorporated into muffins, pies, pancakes, smoothies, salads, and even salsas – just to name a few ideas. Although the season of fresh is coming to an end, we can still purchase blueberries and freeze them for the winter months. Because they are in their most whole form, the vitamins, minerals and anthocyanins in the blueberries are preserved when frozen (Advances in Nutrition, 2019). Whether they’re being eaten as a snack or added to a meal, blueberries are always a fantastic idea to include in your diet! These tiny but mighty berries provide exceptional health benefits and are integral to include in a balanced diet.

Get your daily dose of blueberries with this healthy Blueberry Crisp (pictured above), available at Beaming Baker.

This blog post was written with the help of Calla Storie, who is just starting her journey at UBC on the path to becoming a dietitian. Thanks Calla.


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