The real nutritional benefits of eating blueberries


fresh blueberries

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July is National Blueberry Month. But considering all that these little nutritional powerhouses have to offer, every month should be National Blueberry Month. These blue dynamos are not only tasty and versatile but also exceptionally good for you.

As with anything, however, there's a lot of misinformation when it comes to the health benefits of eating blueberries. Eating a few handfuls of blueberries a day won't cure cancer or stop you from getting it, unfortunately. But blueberries are  packed with phytonutrients called polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help lessen inflammation caused by chronic conditions that do include cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

We looked at the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to help us sort out the facts — so you can draw the real  nutritional benefits of blueberries without having unrealistic expectations.


Quick nutritional facts

  • Blueberries contain 80 calories per serving, which is one cup.
  • With 3.6 grams of fiber per serving, blueberries help you meet your daily recommended intake of fiber.
  • Blueberries contain naturally occurring sugars and fiber, which are both carbohydrates.
  • Blueberries contribute vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese, making them a good choice to help meet nutrient needs.


Buying fresh

  • When you buy fresh blueberries, the council recommends you look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery surface bloom and no leaves or stems. Size isn’t an indicator of maturity, but color is — berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black.
  • Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe and won’t ripen once they are picked, but you can use them in cooking. Avoid blueberries that look soft or shriveled or have any signs of mold. If you see juice stains in a container of blueberries, the fruit might be bruised.
  • Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Be sure to wash your blueberries just before you start snacking, and eat them within 10 days of purchase.


Buying frozen

  • You can find pre-washed, unsweetened frozen blueberries packed in poly bags or boxes in most supermarket frozen food sections.
  • When you grab a bag of frozen blueberries, they should feel loose and not clumped together. They’ve been individually quick frozen so you can remove a few at a time or use them in larger portions.
  • Store frozen blueberries in the freezer and sprinkle them onto yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies, or pop them right in your mouth for a refreshing treat. They add a flavorful punch to burgers, and are ideal for baking blueberry muffins and scones. Check out this recipe for blueberry soup.
  • If you don’t use the whole bag of blueberries, return the rest to the freezer promptly; if you thaw the blueberries, cover, refrigerate and use them within three days.


Freezing fresh blueberries

  • Use fresh blueberries that are completely dry when you pop them in the freezer. Don’t worry about rinsing the berries before you freeze them; simply place them, still in their original containers, in re-sealable plastic bags and store them on your freezer shelf.
  • If you prefer to rinse the blueberries first, dry them well with paper towels, then transfer them to freezer containers or re-sealable plastic bags for freezing. The blueberries will freeze individually so you can remove just the portion you need.
  • If you didn’t wash your blueberries before freezing them, rinse them just before use.
  • For best results, use frozen blueberries within six months.


Health benefits

Collaboration between U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and Column Five