Summer can get boring very quickly, whether you spend your days in the hot sun with nothing to do but sweat or sit in the AC watching U-Tube videos. Today, try something new to pass the time! July 10th is national blueberry picking day, and not only is picking blueberries an exciting activity, but blueberries are an incredible superfood. This tiny fruit is loaded with reasons to shovel handfuls in your mouth!
Blueberries are the second most popular type of berries (behind strawberries) in the United States. In addition to their popularity, they are known for their abundance in antioxidants. Antioxidants support our health by fighting the free radicals that can cause cellular and DNA structural damage in our bodies, lowering the chances of getting some types of cancers. Raw blueberries- as opposed to cooked or canned- have the most flavor and greatest benefits. You can, however, freeze blueberries, and they will still retain their health benefits. Organic blueberries are said to have the highest antioxidant capacity when compared to non- organic varieties.
There is evidence that the antioxidants in blueberries can improve memory because of the impact they have on brain health. In addition to making us smarter, berries are a great energy source because they are low in terms of their glycemic index. Basically, eating blueberries will help keep your blood sugar relatively stable as opposed to a spike in blood sugar that can occur from eating refined sugars.
The phytonutrients in blueberries are excellent as an anti- inflammatory and may keep you from retaining too much water on a hot summer day. They have also been touted to protect the retina in your eye from oxygen and sunlight, to protect the cardiovascular system against stress, and there is also evidence that eating blueberries can reduce muscle damage after a hard workout!
To provide optimum health benefits, you should eat about three cups of fruit per day, and you will be surprised at how many blueberries are in just one cup- about 125 berries! To beat the summer boredom, go to a local berry farm and pick a basket of fresh blueberries. Toss them into your fruit salad or green salad and on top of your cereal in the morning! Here is a recipe for a delicious green salad featuring blueberries:
Spinach, Blueberry and Goat Cheese Salad
1 bag baby spinach, washed
1 cup blueberries
6oz goat cheese
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Directions: Toss the spinach, blueberries, goat cheese and almonds together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad mixture and enjoy! A great addition would be some grilled chicken or fish on top.
Photo Credit: FBM